'LASTMA, A Local Solution To A Unique Problem'

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Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, on Thursday asserted that transportation is a municipal matter over which state governments clearly have residual legislative authority.

The governor spoke in an interview with Airport Correspondents at the Presidential Lounge of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, on his return from Abuja. Fashola who spoke against the backdrop of the judgement of a federal high court in Lagos on the imposition of fines by the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), said that all over the world, there is always the provision for summary payment of fine or the option of a trial.

“You can always opt for trial or say in the alternative, I agree, I have committed the offence and would want to pay the fine. I don’t want to go to court. And I think this represents the ambits under which we have been operating. Those who insist on being taken to court are taken to court”, he explained.

He said he was recently with officials of LASTMA at a mentoring civic responsibility training programme because irrespective of the posture of some people, the outfit represents the local solution to a unique traffic problem.

“Unlike in other jurisdictions, where you have efficient traffic lights and all of that, here, we have used a local challenge to create opportunity for almost 5,000 people who are working, showing dignity of labour, staying in the sun and in the rain to keep traffic moving.

Asked whether he is satisfied with the performance of LASTMA, the Governor declared: “I am never satisfied with even my own performance. I continue to raise the standard of performance everytime. That is the way we are made. We are not resting on our oars as we find new energy to set new standards. Whatever we have achieved, it means we can do better”.

He added that keeping Lagos traffic moving without 24 hours electricity is a miracle on its own, stressing that commendation must be given to the men and women who do it.

“We know that there is a point beyond excellence and that is where we strive to reach. That is why they have been in training for almost eight weeks and several other programmes aimed at improving their service delivery”, he noted.

Fashola who also fielded questions on the new tenancy law said this is not the first time the tenancy law is being amended as it has undergone several amendments in the past, even when he was still a child.

He said that addressing developments on the tenancy law should not be about his duty alone but about the voice of the tenants, the citizens, operators and the landlords, adding that this explains why the state government is convoking a meeting for Friday(today) where the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice would explain the issues of law and the Commissioner for Housing would explain the housing policy.

The governor who promised to speak at a later date on the issue said the amendment made to the law is part of the long term housing strategy for the general public. “That law is not a substitute for building houses which we will do. What we are regulating is the unequal relationship power where prices of houses that are already high are been compounded in multiples.

“If you continue to do that (as a trader) if you ask me for three years rent, it means the money I should have used to trade, I will use it to pay your rent and then borrow money with interest from micro finance house or bank with interest. I will pass it back on whatever I am selling to you”.

“If we relieve ourselves of this desperate condition and collect our rent just year after year, then we will be freer. These are the things that drive our people to desperation. This is why we find it difficult to combat corruption successfully”, he explained.

Governor Fashola who also spoke on the Alimosho Masterplan and how the state government intends to achieve the provisions with the area already fully built up noted that a masterplan development is about adopting what is in existence, modifying it and planning on what should come.

“It is to assess what has taken place. If this development continues and the government is not thinking ahead about what to provide in terms of water supply, waste water treatment that will treat the sewage and think about what in 15 to 20 years would be the rail tracks to manage transport because we cannot continue with this bus system for ever.

“Where will the new schools, the new hospitals for the new children be? As we speak, many high rise buildings are coming up in many parts of Lagos, we must prepare for them. That is what the masterplan is all about. Of course, if there is an illegal structure, once it is confirmed to be illegal, it will come down, but if we have it in a place where we can build around it, we will keep it”, the governor stated.

The governor identified Alimosho as one of the eight towns the government is master planning, adding that others include Lekki, Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lagos Mainland, Ikorodu and Badagry.