Governor of Lagos state, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) has led members of his cabinet to Ikorodu and Epe areas of the state in southwest Nigeria, in continuation of his statewide inspection of projects declaring that the plethora of projects inspected has shown that members of his team have continued to work hard for citizens in all parts of the state.
On the matter of lack of public awareness about government projects, Governor Fashola declared, "The present administration is not made up of showmen. We don’t do turning of the sod. We take our work seriously and this is the work that this new team has put together in one and half years since we got elected. We have not been here but we know the work is going on, the Commissioners take their work seriously; the Special Advisers are also taking their work seriously."
"I get reports every week on what is going on. So, I wasn’t under any pressure because in spite of what people were saying, I know the progress we were making. I’m satisfied with what we have seen and again it is also to show you and citizens who we hope that you will communicate with now that their government is working in many more places."
He continued, "All those turning of the sod and all of that before you build the house are not for us. You can see structures, you can see buildings, you can see people on site, on all those sites where houses are being constructed. In Igbogbo, 1,038 people were working as well as 26 companies while in the first scheme in Agbowa there are about 23 companies and 880 people who have been employed there."
"There is another contractor who is using a different model at the Agbowa-Ikosi area for the 144 units. You saw people at the construction site. You see people here dredging and you can see people here working. So that is what is important, the budget is making impact in the most inner recesses of Lagos. In every part of Lagos, we are busy", he added.
Coming exactly a week after the first of such tours this year, Tuesday’s tour took the Governor to over ten on-going projects in Ikorodu including Mile 12/Ikorodu Town Extension – BRT Lane/Road Expansion, Terminal buildings at Ipakodo Jetty, Rehabilitation of Ibeshe Road and construction of Jetty, Igbogbo Baiyeku Road (HOMS), Housing Scheme along Odo-Onosa/Odo-Ayandelu Road, Resettlement Centre for flood victims, Ikosi, Agbowa, Housing site Agbowa (Choice Estate), Relocation of Oko-Baba Sawmill to Agbowa (Timber Village) and LASPOTECH projects, among others.
Speaking to newsmen after his assessment of work on the Mile 12/Ikorodu Road, Governor Fashola explained that the 14 kilometre road would be expanded to six lanes – three on each side with one reserved for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on each side adding that there would also be three BRT terminals along the road.
The Governor also explained the seeming slow pace of job on the road saying the contractors were working in collaboration with the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to relocate their facilities on the road including about 300 electricity poles as well as cables.
He told the people, "This is what we do with the money we borrow. By making the investment, we build for tomorrow. And this is the best way to build infrastructure. Aside from the low interest rate, we have a long period of repayment. Alternatively, if we wait for later, the cost will be high as the Naira continues to lose value."
Governor Fashola also threw more light on the purported borrowing of $15 million from the EXIM Bank of US by the State Government saying the State has not applied for any loan but placed order with a firm in Illinois, United States manufacturing fire engines, for the supply of 30 fire engines to Lagos State.
He explained, "What I know is that no state governor can borrow money without the approval of the State Executive Council, not even from a local bank. As a sub-national government, we cannot borrow money from overseas without the approval of the sovereign. That is why we go to the National Assembly; we go to the Federal Executive Council when we want to borrow money."
"We applied for the supply of 30 fire engines from a company in Illinois in the United States. They make fire engines. Anybody who is familiar with the Export Import (EXIM) Bank loans knows that it is a strategy for a company – in this case a country, the United States – to promote export for its local companies to overseas countries," the Governor said pointing out that the money was advanced to the company by the United States Government through the bank to enable it have enough capital to manufacture the fire engines.
According to the Governor, "Fire engines are not what you go to buy in a shop. The American company that will produce the fire engines need to upgrade its capital to enable it put the things together and export to us. That is what the United States Government did for the company. We did not apply for any loan. EXIM Bank, through the American Government gave the money to the manufacturing company. It is guaranteed by a Nigerian bank which we will pay to."
At Ibeshe Road, which has been completed by Messrs Arab Contractors, Governor Fashola expressed satisfaction with the quality of work done urging the company, however, to speed up work on the new Jetty also being constructed at the road terminal by the company.
He told the newsmen, "Last week, we visited Mile 2 Jetty. Last year, when we visited Ajah, we saw the Ajah Jetty. Now, we have done Ibeshe Road and we decided that before the contractors leave let’s put another jetty here so that people can actually have a choice whether to drive or take a ferry to Ipakodo."
Recalling that the seven kilometre Ibeshe Road took his campaign train about one and half hours to travel during the electioneering campaigns, Governor Fashola declared, "Today we have done it in 10 minutes. This is what development is all about and, I think, the people are pleased."