“Everyone is born with an instinct of success, and ability to make it, but only the ones who think out of the box succeed.” ––Unarine Ramaru
The innovative voyage embarked upon by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode at the Oworonsoki bus stop has no doubt mitigated the debilitating traffic snarl and incidental crime of yore that transcends Lagos Island to the mainland. Curiously too, it has raised the question regarding whether a single innovation can give satisfactory answers to a myriad of multi-faceted traffic and incidental problems confronting Lagosians? With Ambode, an innovative administrator and manager whose career has been defined by the acclaimed ability to think outside the proverbial box at the helm of affairs, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.
To start wit; when Ambode assumed office in 2015, quite a few impatient political watchers and inhabitants of Lagos State underestimated him. But with time, the amiable and self-effacing governor of Lagos State steadily showed that despite his slow and steady start, he might readily surpass the limit set by the state’s superlative governors since 1999. To the joy of many, he has, so far, exceeded expectations.
Without doubt, he has proved his detractors wrong and has validated the confidence reposed in him by the citizens of Lagos State and the Lagos State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The exploit of the current henchman of the centre of excellence is legendary: From the repositioning of the state government’s policy to meet up with the pursuit of result-oriented governance; to eventual reordering of the huge debts he met on resumption and having purposeful grip on state finances; down to transformation of the emergency services that has now become efficiently responsive, akin only to others like it in developed climes.
The current Lagos governor of compassion has times without number exhibited his milk of kindness to pensioners and staff in the employ of the state government. Apart from ensuring that the staff of the state government get salary by the 21st of every month at this excruciating period when most of the states across the federation are owed arrears of salary; he has gone further by not only assuring pensioners in the state of their pensions but making sure that a large chunk is provided to pay them at a time their counterparts in other states are not being paid at all. Indeed, the welfare of people around him in the state is of paramount significance to this amiable governor. Pensions are given undiluted prioritization in Lagos state to the admiration of all. Thanks to this humane governor that is doing everything to increase the revenue base of Lagos State.
Another passion that makes Ambode distinct is his unrelenting and unprecedented passion to bring in foreign investors into the state. And his realisation of the need to create a safe environment was responsible for his result-yielding repositioning and massive funding of operations of the security outfits in the state. This is meant to guarantee the safety of lives and property.
Surprisingly too, his interventions in especially the area of roads construction and maintenance in record time have gone a long way in tackling obnoxious traffic gridlock in all parts of the state. This is commendable in view of the limited resources at his disposal. Ambode has gone far flung in reviving amongst others public primary education, public health services not to talk of his unwavering crusading for social justice issues most especially on domestic and sexual violence. Indeed, the Ambode-led Lagos State government has shown the entire country how prudence and strategic thinking can bring about acceptable results in the face of daunting challenges.
But perhaps more marvelous and impressive than the adumbrated list of achievements above is the recent innovations embarked on by the governor at the Oworonsoki Bus-Stop end of the 3rd Mainland Bridge. The area that had become synonymous with traffic bottleneck, traffic-time robberies and intense stress has now become something joyous according pleasure drive- thanks to the out-of-the-box solution consisting of iron fencing and the relocation of the traffic-inducing bus-stop at a nearby purpose built facility.
The ingenuity in this is that, while a causal observer might be tempted to think that the intervention at the Oworonsoki Bus-Stop was only traffic-centered, road users are now beginning to appreciate that the nature of the intervention was indeed designed to solve many problems at the same time in a most cost-efficient manner.
In the first place, average rate of fuel usage by motorists has been noticeably reduced. In a 2008 published research carried out in Germany, scientific exercise led to the conclusion that the fuel consumption of vehicular traﬃc on a given road section depends strongly on the velocity proﬁles of the vehicles and the researchers specifically found that traﬃc congestion typically leads to an increase of fuel consumption in the order of 80 per cent.
In this era of market-rate pump price of petrol, Lagosians are grateful. While the savings on fuel usage is laudable, one must also note that the savings have multiplier effects of their own: lower fuel usage will translate to more cash savings and, those cash savings, when banked and aggregated, could translate into funds available for lending for developmental purposes.
There is also the positive effect on the environment. The innovative intervention by Ambode at the Oworonsoki Bus Stop having reduced traffic congestion has also reduced the concentration of carbon dioxide emissions in that area and in all areas that have witnessed a reduction in traffic congestion consequent upon similar interventions by the governor. Of course, carbon dioxide has been shown to be the main pollutant warming our planet and the alarming negative effects of environmental warming are well documented.
Closely related to the above is the beneficial effect of the Oworonsoki Bus- Stop intervention on the health of road users. From saving road users from concentrated carbon dioxide inhalation to reducing the physical, mental and emotional stress associated with traffic congestion, this intervention has a pleasant effect on the health of Lagosians.
Repeated exposure to carbon dioxide has been identified as a possible cause of lung cancer while the inconvenience, physical discomfort and consistent sedentary posture forced by traffic build up could aid the lifestyle habits that have been proven to occasion strokes and heart attacks. Indeed, a professor of medicine and Chief of Cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco, David Waters, is reported to have observed that more Nigerians are dying and developing stroke because of the long hours they spend in traffic.
Now, Lagos State has always been and remains Nigeria’s economic focal point, generating a significant portion of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Most commercial and financial business activities are carried out in the central business district situated on the island where most of the country’s commercial banks and financial institutions and major corporations are headquartered. It is thus clear as daylight that the intervention at the Oworonsoki Bus Stop will further fulfill Lagos State’s metamorphosis in to a dream mega-city.
The promotion of commerce and the ease of doing and transacting business is a legitimate expectation of taxpayers from the government of Lagos State. The innovative intervention by Governor Ambode at the Oworonsoki Bus Stop has met that expectation. Traffic time has been cut by almost half and the prospect of making multiple trips to the Island from the mainland is no longer dreadful.
One must appropriately note that the foregoing benefits would not have accrued if Ambode had followed the standard traffic congestion solution of deploying more and more traffic control officers to hotspots. That would have amounted to the ‘same old, same old’ approach that only resulted in corruption and inconsistent results at the bus stops.
For instance, by incorporating the construction of the metal fence to his innovative solution, the governor has reduced, if not stopped, the recurring incidences of traffic-time robberies. With the fence in place, robbers will have to think more than twice before engaging in their nefarious acts because the chances of escape have been reduced to virtually nil.
In the same way, passengers of commercial buses no longer have a reason to pressurize drivers to stop at places not designated as bus stops because the fence has removed any mileage to be gained by so doing.
Thus, going back to my opening question here, could a single innovative solution give satisfactory answer to a number of multifaceted problems confronting Lagosians? In this case, the answer is a loud and incontrovertible “Yes.” Governor Ambode’s out-of-the-box approach to traffic management has proffered solutions to, and in some cases, ameliorated the effects of, some of the most annoying and worrisome problems that have confronted Lagosians for a long time: the rate of fuel usage has reduced, savings on fuel costs could translate to more funds being available for lending; the environment is saved from further pollution; the incidences of health conditions associated with a polluted environment and traffic congestion are vastly reduced. Also, the quantity and quality of time available for productive business transactions have been increased, and the incidences of robbery attacks greatly reduced.
It is for these reasons that one is compelled to extol the gratifying efforts of Ambode and what to expect from him in the future despite the prevailing economically challenging time. May Ambode never get tired of moving Lagos forward.
-Dr. Fadahunsi, a sociologist, lives in Ogudu GRA, Lagos state.