In-spite of explicable concerns over traffic gridlock as well as pockets of traffic robbery incidents across the State, it vital to affirm that the Akinwunmi Ambode Administration in Lagos State has commendably discharged its responsibilities within such a short time in office. Of late, the much talked about traffic gridlock in the metropolis is steadily giving way. With the reformation of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, LASTMA, Lagos residents have begun to notice remarkable improvement in traffic situation in the State. Same goes for security situation as occurrence of traffic and armed robbery operations have drastically dwindled across the State.
The current improved traffic and security condition in the State is the outcome of months of painstaking planning by the State government and relevant stakeholders. Governance is not as simplistic and straightforward as some people would want to think. Lots of methodical and strategic thinking go into formulation and execution of government policies and programmes. From the outset, the vision of the Ambode administration is to transform Lagos into a 24/7 economy. To achieve this goal, the security component has always been accorded a top priority. Therefore, one of the earliest tasks of Governor Ambode was to meet with key stakeholders in the State to advance security course. On the occasion, over One Billion Naira was realised as cash donations from various corporate organisations and individuals while others made commitments to provide other vital technical support.
Consequently, the Ambode administration has made concerted efforts to fortify the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), in partnership with the State Police Command, to further enhance its operational capability. This is reflected in the handing over of 2 surveillance helicopters, 10 armoured tanks, 10 brand new Hilux vehicles and115 new power bikes, to the State Police Command and RRS respectively. This is in addition to the purchase of 100 new squad cars for a new initiative tagged Special Operation Service (SOS), which will harmonize community policing in partnership with the Rapid Response Squad (RRS). Likewise, an integrated security and emergency control platform that interface with all security networks in the State has been set up. The outcome of all this investment in security is the relative calm and peace being experienced in the State.
The improved traffic situation in the State is equally a product of multifaceted strategies being deployed by the State government. One of such is the restructuring of LASTMA. Another is road-repair. For the Ambode administration, which actually came on board in the thick of the rainy season, road rehabilitation is a necessity. In Lagos, the rainy season often has serious implications for human and vehicular movement. Since significant portions of the roads have been largely damaged by the rains, the Ambode administration came up with “Operation fix all potholes”, which is geared towards ridding all roads of potholes to enhance a hitch free vehicular movement. By defying the prolonged rainy season in its road rehabilitation’s quest, the administration has disregarded a universally held belief that road maintenance work is seldom done during the rains.
Through this process, over 230 roads have been improved across the State. These include Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, Mongoro-Cement-Dopemu under bridge axis, Epe-Ijebu -Ode road, Odumola-Poka/College road junction axis, Ado road, Ajah, Obalende bridge descent inward NIPOST, Lekki-Epe expressway, Elemoro-Abijo axis, Billings way, Oregun, Ashabi Cole street, Alausa, Abdul Ouadri Adebiyi street, Magodo Ph II among others. This is aside major rehabilitation works being done on the Ejigbo-Ikotun road, Moshalasi-Ayobo road, ACME road among others. Meanwhile, it is imperative to emphasize that the exercise covers and favours every Division, Senatorial district as well as Local Government Council Area in the State.
It is, however, important to stress that the palliative works being carried out on some strategic roads across the state are not meant to provide permanent solution but temporary relief for Lagos residents pending the setting in of dry season, when real asphalt works will be applied to the depressed surface. Considering the level of work done so far on the roads, in addition to several on-going commitments such as the newly commissioned Mile 12-Ikorodu BRT lane and busses, it is expected that significant improvement will soon begin to take place in road transportation across the state.
In the health sector, the administration is equally making appreciable progress as the governor recently commissioned 20 Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) Ambulances and 26 Transport Ambulances. The aim is to bring quality healthcare service closer to the people, particularly during emergency situations. It is also aimed at widening the coverage of emergency services beyond the metropolis to the hinterland. The ambulances, which are to be deployed free of charge for Lagosians, are part of Ambode’s promise to run an all inclusive government.
Similarly, more paramedic staff and special medical coordinators have been employed to ensure 24 hours service to the citizens. There are also plans to equip all General Hospitals in the state with new mobile X-Ray machines to reduce the cost of patients doing X-Ray outside the hospitals. In same vein, funds have been approved for homegrown cochlear implant surgery, under a special programme dedicated to restoring the hearing ability of those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Cochlear implantation is a hearing device implanted into a deaf patient’s ear through surgery, thus helping to convert sounds into impulses which enable the patient to hear. A 64 year old man has already undergone the surgery successfully.
The education sector is also receiving commensurate attention from the state government. In a bid to improve primary education in the state, 1300 teachers have been recruited into all public primary schools across the State. Being the foundation of education at all levels, the Ambode administration is poised to strengthen the quality of the Universal Basic Education Programme in Lagos State to give pupils a solid and sound academic background. The exercise is equally expected to achieve a balanced workforce of teachers in public primary schools in the State.
In order to reduce the economic and emotional burdens of State pensioners, the sum of N11bn has been released to pay off pension liabilities owed the mainstream retirees and the retirees in Local Government Areas since 2010. The development is part of efforts to find a holistic solution to the issue of payment of pension entitlements to retirees under the pay-as-you-go pension scheme which was discontinued in April 2007, as well as outstanding accrued pension rights due to retirees under the contributory pension scheme. This intervention will go a long way in ameliorating the sufferings of retirees in the state.
Also, the civil service, which oils the machinery of government, has been restructured for tactical re-positioning. Some MDAs have been re-aligned while new ones have been created to align with the vision of the administration. Similarly, government agencies with rented office accommodation are back in the secretariat. The goal is to cut the cost of governance as almost three billion naira is currently being saved monthly through this initiative.
The past five months, no doubt, represent a significant milestone in the life of the Ambode administration. It is the foundational period when solid socio-political and economic frameworks have been put in place. Now that preparatory job is done with, Lagosians are reassured of a better and brighter future.