Governor Babatunde Fashola
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Sunday began a fresh campaign to restore law and order in the state as he issued quit notice to all squatters under bridges in Lagos and drivers of tankers and other articulated vehicles parked on roads in the state.
The governor who was worried by the level of degradation and environmental nuisance caused to government facilities and public assets in Apapa and Amuwo Odofin areas of the state, noted that the wanton disregard to law and order by desperate people who wanted to earn a living at all cost, was causing the state much damage that government cannot afford to treat it with kid gloves.
Fashola said: “That is why you see that not only do I have members of the State Executive Council with me, I also have all the Service Commanders, Brigade Comman-der, the Commander Beecroft, Commander of Air Force Base in Lagos, Director of SSS in Lagos, the Commissioner of Police.”
“You have seen from Ijora, right through to Apapa to Mile 2 and Amuwo Odofin. You see the impact of the activities of tank farm owners, Port concessionaires, tanker drivers and trailer drivers, all in the name of doing business. But in doing business, they have hurt order businesses”, the governor said.
He described the current onslaught as a necessary clean up exercise devoid of religious, ethnic or other sectional considerations but which must be carried out now to save the State from further degradation and imminent chaos. That, according to him, was why all the heads of security agencies were involved in the renewed drive.
He warned the squatters to quit the sites within seven days or face the wrath of the law because government would not give up the fight until the state is rid of people and interests who allow their selfish needs to jeopardise the collective goal of moving the state forward.
Fashola advised people who have nowhere to live and owners of vehicles who have nowhere to park to quit the state for good so that they would not, out of their desperation to make money through any means, disturb or kill the business of others through their illegalities saying such money would amount to blood money.
The governor became more sad when he saw the level of damage done to Creek Road, Apapa, where many properties have been abandoned by their owners and many businesses closed down because the concessionaire handling the Apapa Port shut out trailer trucks that were meant to park inside the Port and called on the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and other Federal Government agencies to get more concerned about the well-being of people living in the Apapa corridor.
He noted the nuisance created by the tanker drivers and the activities of tank farm owners along the corridor and vowed to engage them till change is achieved and they give up their selfish tendencies to make money at the expense of other people who are also entitled to being served and protected by the government.
Accompanied by members of the state’s Security and Executive Councils, Fashola, who toured roads and other facilities in Apapa and Amuwo Odofin, warned that his administration would no longer permit any form of lawlessness or illegalities in the state, saying those who would not obey the laws and regulations of the State should quit. In particular, the governor frowned on the hordes of motorcycles (okada) operators who have turned the under-bridge of the Apapa Road into homes advising them to go to their states and participate in agriculture.
He said while fielding questions from Government House Correspondents that the problem in the state had to do with disregard to Law and Order adding that the simple solution to the problem is to restore law and order in the state.
Describing the fresh drive as a joint effort between the Government and all the security agencies to enforce Law and Order, Fashola said: “The question to ask ourselves is really, can we do business by breaking the Law?” the Governor asked, saying Federal Government agencies are the worst offenders here, licensing tank farms and operations without any consultations with the state government to find out how things could be done in the proper way.”
According to the governor, residents of Apapa have been complaining for months that they spend six hours undertaking a thirty minute journey pointing out that people from all walks of life have besieged Lagos and have greatly degraded the environment of the area where they do business in parts of the State with open defecation, urination and compounding of drainage problems in the course of doing business.
He said: “When you look at all of these people from all parts of the country, I become responsible for them and I get nothing in return,” adding, however, that the issue would be dealt with when the issue of revenue allocation and whether or not Lagos deserves a special status would be discussed at the national level.
He called on the Federal Government to keep a closer eye on its concessionaires at the Ports because, according to him, “They are shutting down the Ports and they are shutting down access to the ports by trailers which need to come and evacuate cargo. The next place the trailers go is stay on the roads and they stay there for weeks to the detriment of the citizens whose taxes built the roads. That cannot work.”
The governor cited as an example, a trailer park on Warehouse Road which has been concessioned to a container operator who has since put containers there and driven out the trailers, adding, “You now see them berthing on the roads, parking their trailers there, defecating on the roads that cannot work. That is a violation of our environmental laws; that is a violation of our traffic laws and we will not lie down and let this happen”.
“As I have said, this is a free country. People can move from any part of the country to any other part of the country they choose to, they will be welcome subject to only one condition, they must obey the laws of that place including the laws of Lagos State,” the governor said.
Speaking on the squatters under the bridges, Fashola said: “Spaces under and around the bridges are reserved to service the bridges. We will embark on continuous inspection of those bridges so that they can last their span. They are not residence for miscreants and those who have no place to live.”
“I have told them that I and my colleague governors at the Governors’ Forum have dedicated our commitment to Agriculture. It is the easiest job anybody can do; so if it is job that brought them to Lagos, they should go back to their states and farm and produce food because the nation needs food,” the governor said.
Fashola, who also spoke on roads in Apapa, particularly Creek Road, expressed dismay that oil tankers and other articulated vehicles have taken over roads in the area making it an uphill task for residents and other businesses to get to their homes and business premises.
Describing it as an outright disobedience to the traffic laws of the state, Fashola declared, “This is not how business is run. They are killing businesses in the area. If as a result of one business, other people lose their jobs, is that a way to do business?”
“As I said earlier, our commitment now is to Law and Order and we will spend all it takes in terms of human, material and financial resources to ensure that this place remains a bastion of Law and Order. The absence of law and order across spectres of our society is costing us more than we care to admit. We can do business, but if we do it within the precincts of Law and Order, it will prosper more, many more people will benefit. It is of no use if I have a tank farm and all the trucks which service my tank farm block the roads and then shut down the productive energy of a whole State. That is not good business because you, as a tank farmer may employ one or two thousand people but you deprive two million people from getting to work; or because your container overturns, it kills a whole family, have we really gained?”
The governor had earlier addressed the squatters under the Leventis Road flyover giving them one week to quit the place while he also issued the same notice to tanker and trailer drivers on Oshodi – Apapa Expressway at Tincan Port and Wilmer. He promised that the security agencies would move and continuously work in Apapa to ensure the restoration of Law and Order in the Area.
Accompanying the governor on the tour were the Service Chiefs including New Commander 9 Brigade, Brigadier-General Pat Akem, AirBase Commander, Air Commodore Tony Omenyi, Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Abubakar Manko, members of the State Executive Council including Chief of Staff, Mr. Lanre Babalola, the Head of Service, Prince Olusegun Ogunlewe, Commissioner for Information, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba, his Environment, Health, Works, Commerce and Industry and Water Infrastructure counterparts, Mr. Tunji Bello, Dr. Jide Idris, Dr. Wale Ahmed, Mrs. Olusola Oworu and Prince Segun Oniru respectively, among other members of the State Executive Council and other top government functionaries.