Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola has raised the alarm that the Apapa/Ijora bridge is in grave danger and needed urgent repairs.
The governor spoke on Thursday while hosting the Presidential Committee for Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) led by its Chairman, General Martin Luther Agwai (retd) at the State House, Ikeja, Lagos, Souhwest Nigeria.
He also lamented that there were 28 bridges belonging to the Federal Government in Lagos that had not been maintained in the last 40 years.
While noting that it was good that some of the SURE-P funds went into the repair of the Third Mainland Bridge, the governor stated that “there are not less than 28 bridges in Lagos that belong to the Federal Government that have not been maintained in the last 40 years.”
He listed one of such bridges as the Apapa/Ijora bridge which, he noted, has become a nightmare to drive on.
“The expansion joints of the Apapa/Ijora Bridge have widened so dangerously that it is a nightmare to drive on it. Some of the studies that we did I have sent the report to the Federal Ministry of Works showing what needs to be done and how much it will cost to do them,” he said.
He added that these were places the infrastructures could be renewed at this time instead of investing in areas where state or local governments have already invested.
Fashola advocated a massive investment in infrastructure across the nation with proceeds from the nation’s oil, saying if well invested, the fund would help bridge the infrastructural deficiency which had stunted the country’s economic growth.
He also called for a policy framework that would enable intervention agencies of the Federal Government such as SURE-P, to deliver enduring and long-term benefits across the country.
The Governor said since oil prices fluctuate globally, the Federal Government should be able to invest proceeds of the commodity during boom times on enduring infrastructure and services that benefit the larger society, adding that the government would be able to point at such infrastructure and services later as evidence of its service to the people.
Citing the National Theatre, the National Stadium and the Tafawa Balewa Square among other such infrastructures as the legacies of the oil boom of the 1970s, the governor said such were the legacies that define the period of the boom of the 70s, adding that since such funds are seasonal, their enduring nature would depend on what is done with them.
“They are the kind of defining things that you and I can look back and say, ‘okay around the Year 2014 when the SURE – P money came, this is what we did with it,” he said adding, however, that there had been many other booms since then to which Nigerians cannot ascribe any legacy.
Advising the SURE-P to re-strategize on how and where to invest the oil funds in order to give maximum benefit to Nigerians, Fashola pointed out that building and construction has helped to energize the economies of many nations across the globe, adding that the agency should always have it at the back of its mind that the revenue from oil would not last forever.
Fashola recalled that the Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF, set up by the Federal Government at the time of one of the booms, invested the money in roads in some parts of the country, adding that indigenes of those parts could today proudly say, but for the PTF, they would not have gotten such infrastructure.
He urged the agency to pursue a model that would bring enduring benefits to Nigerians adding, “For me, when I look at some of the places in some parts of Nigeria where I know that it was the PTF Fund that gave them roads, it probably commends itself to me as a model to pursue.”
He gave example of the Skill Acquisition Centre which the Federal Government intends to build in Lagos, pointing out that while the national government wants to build two, the Lagos State Government already has 17 of such centres, one from where all the costumes used in the state’s annual carnivals are produced.
“All of the people we trained are the welders, tailors, tie-and-dye makers. So, there is a continued absorption of what we produce that we can take back and put to use. When we have events, they are our first customers. When we hosted the National Sports Festival, all the costumes that we used for the opening and closing ceremonies were made by them,” he said.
SURE-P Chairman, General Martin Agwai (retd), said the purpose of the visit was to explore ways to partner with the Lagos State Government in order to facilitate the planned programmes of the Federal Government to create jobs, particularly for the nation’s graduates.
Agwai, who said the Committee was planning a Graduate Internship Scheme to commence in the state by 1 September, 2014, added: “We thought it would be better to inform you and not only that, to give you advance preparatory things to get you prepared and to let you look at your programmes and adjust and see whether you can accommodate us so that when we bring formal invitation you will be available for us as Chief Guest.”
According to him, the second reason for the visit was to assess the importance of Lagos as the economic hub of the nation in terms of the number of firms, industries and other business organizations in the state, adding that the committee intends to get the industries to participate in the scheme to tutor and mentor the graduates for the purpose of making them employable at the end of the programme.
He declared: “We would like Lagos to remain the New York of Nigeria many more years to come because it is going to stay and will continue to be the hub of Nigeria’s economy.”
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