The 11th edition of the Lagos state government Quarterly Town Hall Meetings berths in Apapa today. Since its inauguration in May 2015, it has become traditional for the state government to periodically render account of its stewardship as well as interact with Lagos residents on diverse issues of governance. The Town Hall Meeting, which quarterly alternates across the State’s three Senatorial Districts, is in fulfilment of Governor Ambode’s resolve to run an all inclusive government in which “no one or segment of the society, irrespective of colour, race, faith, status, ability or disability is left behind”.
The forum provides a steady platform for Lagos residents as well as other key stakeholders to be part of decision making process in the state. This, of course, is the whole essence of democracy. For any democratic system to be truly about the people, it is imperative that every democratically elected government constantly relates with the citizens on key issues of governance. Without a doubt, the people remain the bedrock of democracy and as such it is critical that their views on government policies and programmes are carefully and systematically sought from time to time. This way, it will be easy to evolve strategic means to determine ways of improving the quality of the citizenry’s social life.
Since inception of the Quarterly Town Hall Meetings, opinions of various stakeholders as well as resolutions reached have been quite helpful in assisting government to prioritize its developmental plans across various sectors of the state. For instance, at the maiden edition held at Abesan Mini Stadium in Ayobo-Ipaja, residents clamoured for a lasting solution to traffic grid along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway as well as rehabilitation of the Ayobo-Ipaja Road. In his response, Governor Ambode promised that a Flyover Bridge would be constructed at Abule-Egba to ease traffic along the axis while the Ayobo-Ipaja Road would be rehabilitated within three months. Both promises have since been fulfilled.
Besides helping government to prioritize its activities, the Town Hall Meetings equally offers opportunity for the people to be briefed about various policies and activities of government on a quarterly basis. This is quite important because where access to official information is lacking, the citizenry are bound to take rumours, misconceptions, falsehoods and half-truths as the gospel truth, especially in this era of unbridled social media phenomenon.
Therefore, at Apapa, Lagos residents will have the prospect of hearing directly from the Governor about several decisive issues that might be of immense concern to them. Similarly, Governor Ambode will equally have the opportunity of informing the people about the several strides of his administration across all sectors since the first quarter of this year.
For instance, residents of Alimosho were recently given a rare Easther treat when 21 roads and three bridges connecting the state with Ogun State were recently commissioned. The roads commissioned are Ikola Road with Odo Obasanjo Bridge – 6.4km (from Ipaja/Command to Ilo River); Ogunseye Road – 1.75km (from Ajasa/Command to Ikola Road);Oko Filling Road – 1.5km (from AIT to Ilo River).Others include Osenatu Ilo road – 620m (from Ibari Road to Ilo River); Amikanle road – 3.1km (from AIT to Ogunseye Road); Aina Aladi road – 1.9km (from AIT to Ilo River) and Aiyetoro Road with a bridge– 1.4km (from New Market/Ishefun Road intersection to Ilo River).
The Akinwunmi Ambode administration has; no doubt, taken infrastructure renewal to a new height in the state. In view of the several developmental projects currently going on in the state, the joke around town is that Lagos has become one huge construction site. Just recently, President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned a World Class Bus Terminal at Ikeja. At the event, Governor Ambode revealed that more of such are soon to be replicated across strategic locations in the state.
In furtherance of the Lagos State government’s resolve to open up more communities in the state through the construction of inner roads, the Aboru Link Bridge was also constructed and commissioned for public use. The 500 meters bridge, which was designed to last for over 100 years, serves as a major link road to Iyana-Ipaja from Abule-Egba, Abesan Housing Estate, Ayobo-Ipaja, LASU-Iba and Okokomaiko. It has huge positive socio-economic effects on eight communities along the axis. These are Agbelekale, Aboru, Abesan, Iyana-Ipaja, Ayobo, Ipaja and the neighbouring Ogun State. With the coming of the Link Bridge also came construction of numerous other link roads along the axis such as Aboru road, Ogunfisayo Street as well as Kasumu Street.
Presently, work is also on-going on the Pen Cinema /Agunbiade Flyover which is aimed at reducing traffic grid lock within the corridor. The project entails the construction of Reinforced Concrete Bridge over Pen- Cinema junction and Agunbiade/Old Abeokuta road junction respectively, with a spur linking Old Abeokuta road to the elevated deck and rehabilitation of adjoining roads. The adjoining roads will be improved upon to act as effective detour during construction of the flyover. The project is complemented by traffic signalization of the intersections. When completed, Pen Cinema flyover will help reduce the traffic grid lock along the axis.
Similarly, the redevelopment of the Lagos Airport Road into a 10 lane international standard highway is on course while work is equally progressing on the Oshodi Transport Interchange which when completed is bound to change the face of public transportation in the entire country.
The N699.08billion earmarked for key capital projects in this year’s budget is also being judiciously spent on road other infrastructure projects such as the alternative routes through Oke-Ira in Eti-Osa to Epe-Lekki Expressway; the 8km Regional Road to serve as alternative route to connect Victoria Garden City (VGC) with Freedom Road in Lekki Phase I and the BRT Lane from Oshodi to Abule-Egba, to mention but a few.
It is instructive to note that holding this particular edition of the Town Hall Meeting at Apapa is quite significant. Apapa is very strategic to the economy of Nigeria, being a major gateway to the country’s sea ports. The major share of government’s revenue comes from both the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports. More than 75 per cent of the goods that are imported into the country come through the ports in Lagos and the major ports in the country are based in Apapa. Without a doubt, Apapa is undoubtedly vital to the prosperity of Nigeria. It is, therefore, expected that major stakeholders in the axis would avail themselves the opportunity of today’s forum to come up with creative ideas that could further help in optimizing and sustaining the enormous socio-economic potentials of Apapa.
In the words of Harvey Firestone, foremost American Business man, “Capital isn’t so important in business. Experience isn’t so important. You can get both these things. What is important is idea. If you have ideas, you have the main asset you need, and there isn’t any limit to what you can do with your business and your life.” It is hoped that today’s Town Meeting at Apapa will come up with several innovative ideas that will further enhance sustainable growth and development in the state.