By Olusina Thorpe
‘Voices From the Trench: An Anthology of Poems by the Soldiers of the Nigeria Army’, during the Nigeria Civil War, is a fascinating collection of poems. Late General Mamman Vasta was one of the editors of the collection.
A non-commissioned officer made a vital contribution in the collection. It partly goes thus: “If you cannot be a building, be a room. But make sure you are the best room in that building.”
This implies that wherever you find yourself, do the little you can to be a change agent. One of my major takeaways from the two years in office of Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is that positive change is possible where impactful leadership is available. What the governor and his team have accomplished within two years is a pointer to this.
In spite of fundamental challenges such as COVID-19, EndSARS violence, and dwindling revenue among others, the Sanwo-Olu administration has continued to break barriers in order to deliver the dividends of democracy to Lagosians. In transportation, the government has ingeniously created an opportunity for the development of the three major modes of transportation–rail, road and the waterways.
Considering the government’s level of investment in rail transportation, it will certainly not be long before rail becomes effective in the state. Rolling stock for the Blue Line, which comes from Mile 2 to Marina, has been ordered, while progress is equally being made on the Red Line such that in two years’ time, Lagosians will be moving on the Red Line, which will traverse from Agbado to Marina, moving more than one million commuters daily.
In road transportation, the government has completed and commissioned strategic roads such as the Tedi-Muwo Road and Link Bridge, Lagos-Ogun boundary roads in Alimosho and Agbado-Oke–Odo, the 1.4 km dual carriage Pen-Cinema Bridge Agege and access roads and Oniru Network of roads among others.
It has also reconfigured 6 Junction/Roundabouts under our Traffic Management Intervention Plan (TMIP). This is in addition to completing the 13.68 kilometers Oshodi-Abule Egba BRT corridor. It has equally completed and commissioned 31 networks of roads in Ojokoro Local Council Development Area (LCDA). Over 350 inner roads have similarly been rehabilitated by the Public Work Corporation, while 90 palliatives and 261 sectional rehabilitations were done on vital roads across the state.
Currently work is ongoing at the Lekki Regional Roads, Lekki-Epe Expressway, Agric-Isawo Road, Ikorodu, Bola Tinubu-Igbogbo-Imota Road, Ijede Road, Ikorodu (Phase 1), Oba Sekumade Road, Ipakodo, Ikorodu and Itamaga to Ewu Elepe town among others.
Also, over 600 buses have been commissioned in the course of two years. Another 100 high-capacity buses had just been added to the fleet, while the First and Last Mile (FLM) busses scheme was recently launched with 500 busses.
Likewise, the Lagos Ride, also known as the Lagos Taxi, was recently unveiled. The first set of 1000 will be arriving soon, while a small assembly plant is being built to ensure the sustainability of the scheme. The long-term goal is to have 5000 taxis in the fleet.
The third component of transportation being developed is the waterways. 15 terminals are being built concurrently in different parts of the state such as Liverpool, Ebute-Ero, Ibeshe, Okun Ajah and Badagry among others. 7 new ferries have also been added to the existing fleet of 12 by LAGFERRY, thus making the waterways a viable option for commuters
For effective synergy, the government is working on a single payment system in the transportation master plan where a single card can take commuters on a bus, rail and road.
The effects of COVID-19 were both negative and positive. The pandemic gave the state a learning experience about improving infrastructure in the health sector. Not only has more doctors and nurses being recruited, infrastructure is also being improved in the state’s secondary health facilities.
Presently, about six secondary health facilities are being built, while four Mother and Child Centres (MCCs) have been delivered in Badagry, Igando, Eti-Osa and Epe. Also, a brand new 500-bed capacity Mental Wellness Rehabilitation Hospital is being built in Ketu Ejirin, while the construction of the biggest Children Hospital in Africa, the Massey Street’s Hospital, is also on course. Isolo, Ebute-Meta, Harvey Road and Epe General Hospitals are equally undergoing extensive renovation concurrently.
On the environment, waste management and conversion are being properly handled. Two landfill sites are being shut down to give way for extensive renovation. Also, 100 compactor trucks are ready to be launched before the end of this month, while 40,000 waste bins would be given out to residents to use in front of their various houses. This is in addition to massive dredging of canals across the state.
In the education sector, 1,097 projects are ongoing in various parts of the state. Recently, Mr Governor commissioned four schools on the same day in different areas of the metropolis. Over 500 new classrooms have been improved, while over 2000 hostel accommodations have been constructed in boarding schools. Over 100,000 new benches and tables have been handed over to public schools. At the moment, three brand new schools are being built in Elemoro.
To beef up teaching personnel, about 1,500 new teachers were recruited, while over 15,000 others were trained through the Eko Excel programme on 21st-century modes of teaching and learning. The government is working on using technology as a strong enabler for public schools.
Over 80 schools are to benefit from the ongoing 3000km PPP metropolitan fibre optics grid being planted across the state. Very soon, 100 fibres will be available to enhance internet capability. The optic fibres would go round all schools, hospitals and public buildings across the state. This will make the internet and data available.
Infrastructure is also being developed at the grassroots, with the 377 ward projects, while 14 housing schemes have been completed and commissioned. In order to enhance food security, a five-year road map for agriculture development was recently unveiled, while 100 hectares of land has been set aside for farming.
To provide a boost for the tourism and entertainment sector, a N1 billion single-digit loan to be accessed by practitioners in the sector was instituted. Similarly, a 9-man committee, comprising veteran film-makers and some key government officials, was recently constituted to oversee a special interest-free loan specifically initiated and dedicated for film production. This initiative is aimed at addressing financial challenges inhibiting quality film production.
Similarly, over N32, 276,395,658.43 have been paid to 7,998 retirees in the past two years, while about 98,000 Lagosians have been empowered in various skills via the government’s various empowerment schemes. No doubt, in all its plans, policies, programmes and activities, the people is at the core of every move of the administration.
Thus, as it repairs and expands roads, builds hospitals, clears the drains, invests in intermodal transport, empowers more residents, creates more opportunities for economic enhancement and valiantly confronts the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the foremost drive of the administration has always been to improve the lots of the people.
As a forward-looking government, the Sanwo-Olu administration is firmly focused on the future. Hence, it is working on the realisation of the 4th Mainland Bridge. Plans have also reached advanced stage toward the construction of a new Infectious Disease Hospital at Yaba as well as the biggest Infectious Disease Research Centre in Africa.
With the steady strides of the Sanwo-Olu led government in the past 2 years, it has been demonstrated that with the right leadership, the enabling environment can be created for the citizenry to prosper. Lagosians are, however, enjoined to Lagosians to keep playing their part in the Greater Lagos project.
God bless Nigeria. God bless Lagos State. God bless Nigerians. God bless Lagosians.