Fashola: Doctors Asking For The Impossible

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Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State says the striking doctors in public hospitals in the state are asking the state government to do the impossible.

Fashola said this on Wednesday during the 1,800 days in office of his administration, saying that the government could not accede to the doctors’ demands because it was impossible to meet.

The doctors are asking for the full implementation of the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale Structure, CONMESS and a downward review of excessive taxation and that teaching allowances be paid to Medical House Officers undergoing training.

The strike by the doctors entered its eighth day today, with no sign that the government will meet their demands soon while the doctors are not ready to shift ground until their demands are met.

With Fashola’s statement on Wednesday, it is certain that the government is not ready to shift ground, while the strike, which has already crippled the entire health sector, is expected to linger.

Fashola was asked what he was doing to salvage the situation as patients bear the brunt and he said: “I appeal to them to consider the plight of the people. Please, go back to work.

“The doctors are asking us to do the impossible. Money can always be regained but you can’t bring back life. I appeal to them to go back to work.”

Speaking on the Ijegun-Isheri-Oshun and Isolo-Jakande bridge construction, the governor said there had been problems in the construction of the bridge and connecting roads, saying that the project “is enormous. It is a 5.5 kilometre road with a bridge of 500 metres that will require 1,018 piles driven to a depth of 19.5 metres.

“This project will cost the government not less than N10billion which we are working assiduously to provide so that work can continue. We have re-evaluated the project in a bid to get the contractors back on site and I promise and assure you that as long as we have the funds we will complete the project.

“100 days ago, I promised that we were on the verge of awarding the Mile 12 to Ikorodu road project; a road with a total length of 13.19 km that includes several bridges. This project will cost an estimated N30 billion. I told you then that the design of the road was ready and that we were waiting to conclude financing. I am happy to report that the financing has now been concluded.

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“Tenders have been called for, which have been reviewed by the Lagos State Tenders Board and very shortly, the final award will be made. I implore you to continue to bear with us as I am not unmindful of the difficulties that commuters in that area face. I assure you that those difficulties will soon be a distant memory,” he added.

Fashola, however, lamented that one of the communities in Agbowa had decided to take the State Government to court over the land which government had acquired many years ago, stressing that the implication of this was that the 660 housing units meant for people in that community could not start until the case was resolved.

“This is the problem of government by consensus and freedom. But I am sure that we will overcome it. But as the contractors move to site on other projects that are not challenged, I can only remind and caution you that the construction will cause some discomfort. We will try our best to minimise this discomfort but I am certain that it will be worth our while at the end of the day,” he stated.

The governor also disclosed that Hafeez Ayoola was arrested, tried and sentenced to six months imprisonment for vandalising government property, adding that others, such as Michael Arinze, Oluwatosin Ojolu, Monday Michael, Opeyemi Dada, Friday Peter and Friday Nwajieke are all facing charges for vandalising and stealing cables around Eko Bridge and Ijora.

“But there is a lot that you all can do to help arrest this menace. If we all benefit from the street lights and they are, as you know, paid for with taxpayers’ hard-earned money, we must pay greater attention to them.

“Please make it a point to be on the look-out, take pictures on your telephones and forward them to us, and report any suspicious activity immediately you notice it. Oftentimes, these saboteurs (because that is what they are) work in broad daylight, disguising themselves as officials of one agency or the other.

“Let me assure you that our workers are not sent out to dig up cables but rather to install them and if you have even the merest suspicion that something does not seem right, please alert us so that we can at least check it out. If they know that eyes are on them, we can begin to curb their activities,” he stated.

According to him, “the stealing of cables is profitable because there is a thriving market for second-hand cables. We implore the buyers, sellers and users-building contractors, architects, builders, engineers not to continue to fuel this market. Please, desist before the long arm of the law catches up with you. Street lights are like our noses, which we shouldn’t cut off to spite our faces as we are ultimately harming ourselves.”

—Kazeem Ugbodaga