Ambode Unveils Strategic Intervention to End Apapa Gridlock

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• Explains necessity of Land Use Charge Law

•We’ll renew governor’s mandate, says Jim Ovia

By Gboyega Akinsanmi

Amid an annual revenue loss of N1.825 trillion and unprecedented infrastructure decay, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, has unveiled strategic interventions to end hydra-headed gridlock that has almost paralysed economic activities in Apapa Central Business District and its environs.

Ambode has equally explained the imperative of reviewing the State Land Use Charge, 2018 upward, which according to him, has become necessary due “to an infrastructure gap of N14.47 trillion the state is facing in almost sectors i.e. transport, water, waste management, roads and drainages.”

He disclosed this intervention at a recent stakeholders’ forum with captains of industry and business executives at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island where he said the state government alongside other stakeholders had worked out strategic intervention to Apapa gridlock to rest.

At the forum, the governor disclosed that the state government “has already started this intervention with rehabilitation of Apapa’s inner-city roads. We will continue with our road rehabilitation programmes in Apapa to provide viable alternative roads for other road users in the entire area.”

While the state government would be committed to road rehabilitation in Apapa, the governor noted that his administration would allow the federal government “to continue with the projects in Apapa. We are in support of these federal projects.”

He, however, noted that the state government had already developed strategic intervention “to manage gridlock in Apapa and its environs. Already, all the stakeholders are meeting to address traffic congestion in Apapa once and for all.”

Ambode explained that Apapa’s traffic congestion “keeps recurring because there is no parking lot in Lagos ports again. We are working on how to address this traffic challenge so that trailers, tankers and trucks can have a place to park rather than parking on the roads for weeks.

“We have identified a trailer park in Ijora. This park can take over 350 trailers at a time. We have started reconstructing up to standard. We will complete reconstruction very soon. Obviously, this park can be enough given the number of articulated vehicles coming to Lagos every day,” he noted.

Besides the 350-capacity park, the governor noted that the state government “has identified another parcel of land that takes at least 1,300 trailers. We are already working on how to construct it to enable us take the trucks off the roads.”

On this project, Ambode said the state government “has initiated meeting with all stakeholders including the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). We are already perfecting how to construct the two trailer’s parks to take tankers, trailers and trucks off all the roads that connect Apapa and its environs.”

Justifying the upward review of land use charge, Ambode told the stakeholders that his administration “has given more value than the money we have received in the last 34 months, though our challenges are indeed huge and enormous. Honestly, our balance sheet cannot effectively address infrastructure deficit monthly.”  

Aside the infrastructure deficit of N14.47 trillion, Ambode disclosed that the state “has staff strength of over 103,000. Besides regular civil servants, our staff members include health officers, teachers and judicial officers among others.”

With this staff strength, he disclosed that the state “has a wage bill of over N10 billion every month. This bill does not include what we pay our retirees monthly. After we settle all these commitments every month, we are only left with a little above N10 billion to address our infrastructure deficit.”

He noted that the state “has acute infrastructure challenges associated with every megacity globally. If we must solve these challenges, we need more money. With the present economic realities, what can N10 billion really do compared with a infrastructure deficit of N14.47 trillion?

Definitely, the money must come from somewhere. We want to do more than what we have done in the previous years. If we approach the multilateral financial institutions, we will still use tax payers’ monies to pay back with interest.

“So, rather than borrowing, is it not better we task and get things done once and for all? With what we have done in the last 34 months, Lagos residents should trust with their money. So, the review of land use charge is for our progress?”

After listening to Ambode’s presentation at the forum, Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Jim Ovia acknowledged the challenge of governing a megacity like Lagos, which he said, required sacrifice and commitment.

He observed that like chairman of a corporate organisation, the governor “has rendered us account. We are your shareholders. In actual sense, you have done well by my own assessment. We will renew your mandate in 2019.

“I am a member of Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF) Board of Trustees. This fund is one of the best initiatives I have ever seen. Other states are coming to copy it because it has helped fight crime in the city of Lagos. So, we need to support this initiative. On behalf of my company, we are increasing our contribution by 150 per cent,” Jim Ovia noted.