11th April, 2017
By Bolaji Odumade
In the words of Rahul Gandhi, “A rising tide doesn’t raise people who don’t have a boat. We have to build the boat for them. We have to give the basic infrastructure to rise with the tide’’.
Globally, government’s investment in infrastructure is a big factor in the citizenry’s quality of life. Infrastructure is the backbone and chief driver of socio-economic development, which every country strives to achieve. Roads and bridges, in particular, change the face of landscapes; increased connectivity by bringing societies closer to the outside world and attracts in investment from far and wide.
In Lagos State, the current government recognizes the connectivity between infrastructure development and socio-economic growth. This explains why the State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode is so much in a hurry to develop infrastructure across the state.
This is being reflected in massive road construction and maintenance project in both urban and rural centers in the State. The main objective behind this is to ease undue hardship of road users who spend endless hours in traffic gridlock. Less than two years on the saddle, radical construction/rehabilitation of roads have become a major priority of the state both as a developmental end and a stimulator of further economic growth.
When the Governor audaciously announced the plan of his administration in 2016 to construct 114 roads in all the 57 local councils and Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) in the state simultaneously in six months, many applauded the vision behind the plan but expressed reservation over its successful implementation.
The reservation, to a large extent, could be justified based on the fact that the plan was not only unprecedented in the history of the country, but many such lofty programmes and policies usually end up as white elephant projects. However, Ambode proved pundits wrong by not only delivering on the roads but doing so in record time. This development has, no doubt, brought succor to residents in terms of ease of human and vehicular movement within communities across the state.
Perhaps, the most significant aspect of the whole initiative was its grassroots appeal as it really affords Local Government Councils the opportunity of meeting their primary obligations to the people.
The initiative further underscores the unbending resolve of the State Government to improve infrastructure in the State. Expending over N19b to open up rural communities speaks volume of the intention of the State Government to upgrade infrastructure across the State. Cheerfully, the investment is stimulating employment and business development in all the 20 Local Governments/ 37 Local Council Development Areas. From Badagry, Ayobo Ipaja, Egbe-Idimu, Apapa-Iganmu to the Lagos/Ogun boundary end of Eredo LCDA., the presence of motor able roads equipped with drainage and street lights has virtually increased the value of property as well as enhancing economic activities.
This has further helped in halting the traditional rural-urban migration. There is also a health dimension to the whole project as the covered drains are designed to reduce breeding ground for mosquitoes, thus reducing the risk of health hazard.
More importantly, security has equally improved as the activities of hoodlums that used to be aided by bad roads and darkness at night was eventually terminated at the provision of independent powered street lights to improve security of the neighborhood.
Despite successes so far recorded in his all inclusive developmental agenda for the State, the truth is that the passion of the governor to ensure the progress of the state is not waning. From the 2017 budget estimate, the State Government has, once again, unequivocally communicated its commitment to road construction as a vehicle for accelerated socio-economic development. This year, the state has up her game with promise of 181 roads reconstruction.
The Governor, while speaking at the first Quarterly Town Hall Meeting for 2017, the sixth in the series, held at the Ajelogo Housing Scheme, Ajelogo Market Road, Akanimodo, Mile 12, said the 181 roads, is an improvement on the 114 roads, two in each local government, which his administration promised to embark upon every year.
The decision to increase the number of roads was informed by the need to reduce man power time that is mostly dissipated in traffic. This infrastructure development plan in essence will provide more alternative means to business execution on the long run.
Besides, for every infrastructure project that will be executed by the state government, there is an opportunity for local contractors, professionals and artisans to profit from it. In the last 114 roads rehabilitation projects, over 89 local companies were commissioned to execute the projects. It is expected that not less than 150 contractors will be needed for the 181 road in addition to its ripple effects on artisans that will be engaged. What a creative way to address the twain issues of job creation and infrastructure development?
In view of the unwavering commitment of the Lagos State Government towards making Lagos a model mega city, it is expected that the citizens reciprocate by willingly paying their dues and being law abiding. It is only when this is done, that the maxim: ‘Itesiwaju Ipinle eko loje gbogbo wa logun (Lagos Progress is paramount) can be truly realized.
Odumade is of Features Unit, Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.