As the saying goes, ‘the morning shows the direction of the day’, Governor Sanwo-Olu’s initial steps through the executive order he issued in the first week of his administration can be regarded as a right move in the right direction. This is based on glaring challenges in the state in terms of traffic management, road rehabilitation and the environment vis-à-vis refuse/waste management and drainage clearance and maintenance.
It will be recalled that the Sanwo-Olu’s administration agenda is hinged on six Pillars of Development namely: Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy, Entertainment and Tourism as well as Security and Governance.
The first executive order is to address the issue of traffic control and management, fixing of potholes on the roads, sanitation as well as cleaning of drainages in the state.
The order is to also ensure the attainment of zero tolerance for environmental abuse including illegal and indiscriminate dumping of refuse and removal of structures on drainage pouted and setbacks. While signing the order, the Governor declared: “I think we have to make some points about issues that happen around the transportation, potholes on our roads, blockages and rest of it, I think it is something we need to tackle immediately”.
As a follow to this, the governor hit the ground running by extending working hours of LASTMA officials till 11.00pm to ensure effective traffic control. In order to motivate LASTMA officially to perform optimally and take up new challenges, Sanwo-Olu also increased their allowances by 100%. With these initial moves in restoring sanity and orderlines on our roads, Lagosians will soon begin to witness improvement in the area of traffic management in the state.
Generally, two factors majorly contribute to heavy traffic on our roads namely state of the road and general indiscipline of motorists and other road users. In curtailing the excesses of commercial bus operators and the emergent Kabu-kabu (private cabs) operators, the use of the service lanes and bus lays should be strictly enforced.
It is equally essential that LASTMA troopers regularly patrol major highways and roads to give situation reports to the command center and swiftly make necessary moves whenever there are critical issues on the road. It will also not be out of place to bring back the Special Traffic Mayors (STM), similar to the FRSC Special Marshalls made up of eminent personalities and committed individuals, to support and complement efforts of regular LASTMA officials in order to effectively cope with traffic challenges along the expansive length and breathe of Lagos metropolis.
With the return of a versatile, committed, energetic and focused environmentalist LAWMA, there is no doubt that refuse collection and waste management will be getting better. Presently, refuse heaps along major roads and highways are fast disappearing.
The Private sector Participation, PSP, model which is now fully back in operation should be made to focus more on noticeable black spots and ensure regular collection of waste from homes and other refuse generating points. If this becomes efficient and effective, no sane person will have reasons to dump refuse on the highway indiscriminately.
In terms of road maintenance, sometimes people wonder why potholes and sometimes craters are visible on our roads, in-spite of the huge resources usually committed to roads maintenance and rehabilitation in Lagos state. The truth is that Lagos geographical terrain, which is below sea level, makes constant maintenance and rehabilitation of road network a rather challenging and complex exercise.
As earlier stated, Lagos peculiar terrain obviously makes flash flooding inevitable anytime it rains heavily, but the worrying practice of some residents in indiscriminately dumping of refuse along drainage channels evidently compound the situation.
With the recent appointment of a new General Manager for the Public Works Corporation, Engr. Daramola Olufemi Olubunmi, who is veteran in the sector, expectations are high that he will revisit the old strategies previously deployed by the agency which gave a lot of mileage in terms of improved road network.
With the recent return of Drainage Services to Ministry of the Environment and the expected synergy, deployment of experienced hands and workable strategies like the Drain Ducks and Emergency Flood Abetement Gang (EFAG) across the nooks and crannies of the state, definitely Lagosians will start seeing real improvement in the area of environmental regeneration.
What Governor Sanwoolu has succeeded in doing is what is referred to in Yoruba as eating the beancake from the tender parts (A ti ibi pelebe mu oole je).
The governor started well by paying visit to the Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja where he interacted with the workforce of the best, most vibrant and highly productive Public Service in the federation. This is quite instructive since it is the Public Service that will help his administration executes his agenda for a greater Lagos.
The governor is, of course, fortunate, to have a Public Service reputed for thinking in the box, outside the box and even without the box. And his very first action of changing the fleet of old and rickety staff buses with 35 brand new ones demonstrate his resolve to create a conducive atmosphere for Public Servants to discharge their duties.
There is an old saying that there is only one step to greatness: The first step. It does not literally mean that for anyone to succeed only one step is needed. Rather, the implication is that by starting with a good step in the right direction, a fundamental progress has been made. This is because the first step in any human endeavour is quite essential. It is like the foundation of a house; once it is solid all other things will naturally fall in place.
However, it is crucial to conclude by stating that there is a huge difference between listening and hearing. It is hoped that Governor Sanwo-Olu and his able and dependable Deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, having started well will go beyond mere listening to Lagosians to the more productive stage of hearing well what the people are saying. Legendary playwright, Ola Rotimi’s amply illustrates the distinction between hearing and listening well in the drama, Kurunmi. It is worth reading!
Thorpe is of the Lagos State Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.