Infrastructural development is critical to achieving human capital development in any society. Without doubt, the growth of any country’s economy rests largely on the status of its infrastructure.
J.F. Kennedy, a former President of the United States of America, USA, once put the relationship between infrastructure’s development and economic prosperity into proper perspective when he affirmed that: “America has good roads, not because America is rich, but America is rich because it has good roads.”
In the same vein and with the same spirit, Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN), recently handed over the Ejigbo–Ajao Estate Link Bridge to the local community for effective usage. He also handed over the 2.68km Alaba/Cemetery road in Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government. Similarly, the Governor tasked Ikeja community to utilise Kodesoh and Simbiat Abiola roads in Ikeja. He pledged that come rain or sunshine; he would ensure that all road projects under construction are completed.
It will be recalled that the Governor has in the last two years commissioned over 200 inner-city roads from Somolu to Epe, Alimosho to Ikorodu. Just recently, government handed over 16 roads in Mushin, one in Badagry among numerous others to the people for effective and efficient use.
Despite the completion of these roads spread across the state, the state remains a major construction site, especially road construction and maintenance. In Ikeja, for instance, government’s presence is being felt on Joel Ogunnaike Crescent, just like it is being felt on Isaac John and a couple of other streets in Ikeja Local Government Area, as well as in Agege, the 1.8 kilometres Agiliti Road in Mile 12 and others. These roads are not built because there is generally a likeness for building roads but because roads are defining for people’s way of life. They help them reach their businesses and other destinations quickly and safely.
It is, however, important that the people reciprocate government’s huge investments by using these roads with the utmost sense of responsibility.
On the provision of decent accommodation for the people, the Lagos Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme, HOMS, the Fashola administration, in keeping faith with its electoral promise of providing decent accommodation for the people through mortgage facilities, has successfully taken off the scheme with a total of 4,260 homes made up of 1,104 completed homes, with 3,156 at various stages of construction. Thirty winners have already emerged at the first public draw of the scheme aimed at providing the residents opportunities to own their own homes and pay for such within 10 years. In order to meet the objectives of the scheme, government embarked on massive construction of houses in Ikorodu, Ogba, Epe, Badagry, Lekki, Agege, Alimosho and other areas, for people to have choices on where they wish to reside.
The homes are more competitive than what is obtainable through the open market because of the 10-year payment moratorium and the interest of 9.5 per cent per annum on the mortgage. There is no other payment plan superior to this in the country.
The houses have also been painstakingly designed to ensure more space than most of what is available in the open market. The one bedroom flat, for instance, is 60.22 square metres while the two-bedroom is 75.79 square metres and the three bedroom, 123.88 square metres.
It is instructive equally note that government has not borrowed money to fund any of the housing projects, as successes recorded so far are the result of rigorous planning, financial discipline, savings and commitment. The scheme has been funded from taxes the people have paid as monthly Internally Generated Revenue, IGR. This feat was achieved through monthly savings of N200m from the IGR. This has been increased to N500 million monthly, with the possibility of the amount rising as more people respond to government’s persistent call for voluntary tax payment.
In tune with the present administration’s job-creation strategy, numerous jobs have been created through the scheme on construction sites that have benefited 134 construction companies, 459 sub-contractors employing over 1,168 persons, seven consultancy companies and 5,442 suppliers, artisans, labourers and numerous citizens who are employed in the supply chain of sand, gravel, wood and fittings, as well as food vendors and transports.
With regards to health care delivery, Governor Fashola recently handed over the seventh Maternal and Child Healthcare Centre, MCC, and a School of Nursing Complex at the Alimosho General Hospital in Igando, to the community. Out of the 10 MCCs planned for the state by the present administration, seven have already been completed and are fully operational at Ikorodu, Isolo, Ifako-Ijaiye, Igbaja in Surulere, Ajegunle and Amuwo Odofin. The operational facilities have been responsible for the drastic reduction of the distance between the pregnant mother and the unborn baby. As well as accessibility to adequate health care. Of the remaining three MCCs, the one in Lekki has also been completed and is being equipped and fenced in readiness for testing prior to commissioning. The ninth and 10th ones are in Badagry and in Epe and are still under construction but should be fully ready for deployment soon.
The Fashola administration has equally built 15 macro and mini-waterworks that have added 30 million gallons of water to the water supply in the state. Government is equally committed to bigger water projects like the Adiyan Phase II which is now under construction and being projected for completion in 2016 and expected to supply 70 million gallons of water daily. Twenty-five million gallons of water are equally being added at Odomola in partnership with some developers from Singapore while ongoing efforts at upgrading the Ishasi Waterworks from four million to 12 million gallons of water is almost nearing completion.
On the security of lives and property, the State Government has recently demonstrated the workings of the live feeds from the 1,200 security cameras already deployed across the state. With the demonstration of the capabilities of the 27 screen video wall monitors, the state has moved from a zero camera state to about 1,200 camera state. The demonstration is a follow-up to what was started many years ago when a pilot scheme was located in Lekki in 2008 with one camera. This is a demonstration of the resolve of the Government to improve.
The state is now in a position of having one camera to about 10 square kilometres as it has successfully merged its cameras with the ones that the federal government installed, and all the feeds are being taken in one location. It is vital to focus attention on the fact that the Camera Control Security Centre is not a one event destination but a continuous and persistent implementation of many small solutions that has brought the state this far. It is a big web that started first with the Security Trust Fund which provided equipment, vehicles, stuffs and was followed by street signage because it was discovered that while the police could move they could not identify streets. This was followed with house numbering, all of which are still work-in-progress. The state has also moved from an 11-digit number to three-digit number, 767 or 112 because people in trauma might not be able to remember an 11-digit number easily.
Considering the importance of education to the overall development of any society, government has continued to record remarkable improvements in the sector. Consequently, the state governor recently handed over three new blocks of 42 ultra-modern classrooms at Iba Housing Estate Senior Secondary School, Ojo, and Alice Ogbara Memorial Junior Secondary School, Sabo Oniba, with a pledge that his administration’s commitment to the development of education remains unwavering. The first two blocks of 24 classrooms handed over at Iba Housing Estate Senior Secondary School, Ojo, were constructed by the State Government while the other block of 18 classrooms was donated to the school by Mr. and Mrs. Modupe Folorunsho Alakija. Though the population of the state is growing at a fast rate, the development of education, especially in public schools, is equally progressing. The results of the progress are already evident in both the provision of physical infrastructure. There is a gradual but steady rise in the percentage of successes in the West African School Certificate Examination in public schools, which has improved over the years from 10 to 41 per cent and the increase in the enrolment of girls in public schools, which has slightly outstripped that of boys.
With regards to transportation, government has continued with its inter modal approach to public transportation with the recent commissioning of the Ebute-Ojo Ferry Terminal and Ijegun–Egba Floating Jetty, as well as the provision of Armoured Patrol boats. Opportunities also exist for those who want to commute by ferries at Ebute–Ojo to come in their cars and taxies, and park as the road has now been made motorable. The initiative to develop water transportation is progressing with enormous results. Today, the traffic on the Lagos waterways by ferries and water taxies has increased from about a few hundred about two to three years ago, to about 1.7million passengers monthly on Lagos waterways.
With the recent hand-over of the Ebute–Ojo terminal, the next move of government is to hand over the Ijegun–Egba floating terminal. The Mile 2 terminal as well as the Ibeshe terminal in Ikorodu is completed except for minor details. The Badore terminal is also completed and very soon will come into full service. The State has also provided armoured Patrol boats for the people who make use of the waterways to make it safer.
In a renewed effort to speed up development in the Lekki Free Trade Zone, a major milestone was recently achieved when the Governor formally introduced President of the Dangote Group of Companies and arrowhead of the proposed Dangote Refineries and Petrochemical Company in the zone, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, to the host communities signaling the formal takeoff of the multi-billion naira investment at the zone. The major highlight of the ceremony was the unanimous agreement by the host communities to accept and cooperate with the company and other investors in the development of the zone. With this development, it is safe to say that the Lekki Free Trade Zone is beginning to take shape as the Master Plan is being realised with investors trooping in, tank farms and major refineries are springing up to service the demands of the country and make room for export. The refineries will create a major selling point and release of opportunities that lie ahead in this zone, create opportunities for the local people and the potential for Lagos and the Nigerian economy.
In order to digitise the process of obtaining Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), in the state, Governor Fashola recently performed a symbolic flag-off of the issuance of the new Electronic Certificate of Occupancy to replace the old Yellow C of O. It was a symbolic exercise that enables government to communicate with members of the public on the milestone it has reached on the journey to certify land titles and to ensure safety of the investments that people put their life’s savings to acquire and to ensure that in the process of buying a land they no longer end up buying a lawsuit. Government has now moved from geographic mapping of the state to being able to keep all of its land records now in an electronic form. It now knows where land is and what sizes they are and this development is gradually making the work of land administrators a lot easier. In the sense that they do not necessarily have to go into the bush to obtain dimensions of land. The old document, however, remains valid until government is ready to make the total change over.
It is instructive to state that a large proportion of the state’s infrastructures renewal drive is being financed from IGR, as statutory allocations to states from the federal purse have consistently dwindled. It is, however, remarkable that the state government continues to pay workers salaries and perform other statutory obligations without having to borrow money. It is to the credit of this administration, that the idea and the compelling benefits of paying taxes has become a way of life for the people. In this regards, Lagos is moving in the path of countries that have recognised that the payment of taxes is the first step to prosperity. It is important to stress that Lagosians are willingly complying with the payment of taxes because government has been able to win their hearts by providing quality public services and spending tax revenues justifiably. This is the best way to build the Social Contract between citizens and the Government. It is, however, important to urge a significant minority of Lagosians in the formal sector who are yet to be persuaded to pay their taxes to come into the tax fold in order to contribute to the development of the state.