23rd July, 2011
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Friday received the Minister of Works, Architect Mike Onomolemen in audience, asserting that as assets belonging to the people proper maintenance of roads should be priority rather than ascribing ownership to one level of government or the other.
According to Governor Fashola who spoke at Lagos House, Marina, the notion that governors need consent to fix federal roads is a fallacy, since roads should not belong to the government but to the people and it is the responsibility of governments to maintain them.
He added that it should not matter which level of government feels that a particular road is the one where it should intervene but that wherever the Federal Government intervenes in any of the 36 states of the federation, it cannot know the state more than the state governments.
The Governor affirmed that Lagos State would be willing to collaborate with the Federal Government on infrastructure in the state, stressing that such interactions will only take place based on clear rules of engagements.
â€œYour collaboration should even start from your budget consideration every year. You should try as best as you can to invite us to ask questions on where you can assist because we know better as municipal managers.
â€œIf I am handling 20 roads in the inner city, it is easier for me to ask you to give me a helping hand by fixing Apapa- Oshodi Express road, Lagos Abeokuta Expressway and the Airport Road in 2011. This is because people of Mafoluku, Pleasure, Oke-Odo and Amuwo Odofin will benefit from these three roads and whatever I can add in terms of the inner roads, we will bring the aggregate and will all take the credit for it,â€™â€™ he asserted.
Governor Fashola reiterated that collaboration costs money and since he has not been reimbursed for what he has spent, people have even been asking the State Government what business of his are federal roads to maintain them.
â€œThe argument here is some of the federal roads carry more traffic and more people and the generality of the people are less concerned about whose responsibility it is to maintain a particular road. You have a budget of four Trillion Naira while I have a yearly budget of N50 billion. Clearly you are the senior. So, if we are to work together, we must sit down and consider the issues of how to improve the quality of life of Nigerians who choose to live in Lagos, then we will surely find a way.â€™â€™
On the issue of managing Right of Ways on federal roads in Lagos, the Governor explained that it has cost the state a fortune to repossess many of the Right of Ways and the interchanges under the bridges, adding that they constitute some of the expenses already incurred by the State Government which it has not got any reimbursement for.
“The story is that Right of Ways were given over by Ministers who preceded you to people to use. It is your Controller and I who have been labouring in the past four years to recover as many of them as possible. Many times our people have gone there, they have brought out receipts and agreements purportedly issued by the Federal Ministry of Works allowing them to stay there.Of course, Apapa- Oshodi Expressway is a much more complex issue that will require you, the State Government, the Nigeria Ports Authority(NPA), Customs and Immigration to work together because what you see there are largely disused equipment, plants, machinery, tractors, bulldozers lining the Right of Ways.
“The question is: How did they get there?. Those are some of the questions we must ask because if we asked the right questions then probably we will get the right answers and ensure that as we implement solutions in the short term, there are long term agreements, collaborations and responsibilities to ensure that we do not go back.”
The Governor stated that on his own he has encouraged local contractors to patronise the people occupying the Right of Way and buy off some of the equipment because he has often reasoned that it would be impossible to dispose the items into the sea to have the Right of Ways.
On the Lagos Abeokuta Expressway, Governor Fashola explained that it was not the floods that damaged the roads but the designs of the road that aggravated the flooding, stressing: â€™â€™the culvert under the road is a 1m diameter culvert, while the drainage that is bringing water and receiving it at the other end is a 1.45 and 2 diameter size. If the culvert is narrower than the drain that is bringing water, it will have its impact.â€™â€™
Governor Fashola commended the Minister for his directives to Julius Berger to provide remedial measures on the Lagos -Abeokuta expressway, stressing that the people of Lagos would not take excuses for the poor state of the road.
He said while it is possible to identify the floods as the reason for the bad roads, it could also be that the bad roads are the cause of the flood or the aggravation because the lack of maintenance of some of the roads has also led to the deterioration of the drains.
â€œEvery year we have spent money to desilt Apapa Oshodi Expressway in order to make it flood free,â€™â€™ he added.
Earlier, the Minister, Mr Mike Onomolemen had commiserated with the people of Lagos over the flooding which ravaged many parts of the state on Sunday, 10 July, adding that the floods have severely impacted on Federal infrastructure in the state.
He said Lagos is strategic to the Nigerian economy, adding that most of the projects being embarked upon in Lagos are germane to the smooth running of the national economy
.Mr Onomolemen added that top most on the list is the Apapa- Oshodi dual Expressway whose contract was awarded and commenced earlier this year, stressing however that the slow pace of work on the road is due to a number factors, one of which is the inclement weather and the poor budgetary allocation for the project in the current year.
He explained that because of the spate of flooding that was witnessed in Lagos recently; the Federal Government has decided to pay special attention to Lagos State because of its strategic status, adding that in months ahead, the Federal Government will come up with a list of priority projects, assuring that the Apapa- Oshodi Expressway will be one of them.
He also appealed to the State Government to assist the State recover the Right of Ways as illegal businesses that have developed on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway are generating wastes that have blocked the drainages.
The Minister hinted that in the next few weeks, the contracts for the reconstruction and beautification of the Lagos- Airport Road will be awarded, adding that the FG intends to spend N9Billion on the road which has adequate provision in the 2011 budget.
â€œWe would be sending you a proposal on how we can collaborate to make the Apapa- Oworonshoki Express road motorable all year round and we shall be involving the Nigeria Ports Authority and the battery of tank farms whose activities directly impact the road,â€™â€™ the Minister explained.
Earlier, the Lagos State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr Obafemi Hamzat had informed that the state government has constructed about 161 roads in Lagos across different segments and various local governments.
He said between year 2000 and 2003 the cost for rehabilitating federal roads in Lagos amounted to N5.6 billion out of which a total sum of N1.68 billion was certified by the federal authorities which has so far reimbursed a sum of N326 million naira to the State Government leaving a balance of N1.3 billion.
Hamzat added that between 2007 and 2011, a total sum of N51 billion was spent on federal roads in Lagos with nothing certified or reimbursed.
Prominent among those who were present during the visit were the Commissioner for the Environment, Mr Tunji Bello, Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructure, Engineer Ganiyu Johnson, Permanent Secretaries in the Office of Works and Infrastructure, Engineer Tayo Bamgbose Martins and Engineer Wasiu Olokunola as well as the Federal Controller of Works, Engineer Ejike Mgbemena.