Last week, Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, embarked on an extensive inspection tour of major ongoing projects across key sectors of the state, including education, health, tourism and road infrastructure. The iconic projects, many of which the contractors have assured would be completed before the end of the year, were conceived and implemented to transform the landscape of the state and make life comfortable for residents, as well as improve on the ranking of Lagos as the fifth largest economy in Africa.
Since he came to office, Ambode has not hidden his desire to grow the economy of the state to be the third largest in Africa and many projects and policies to achieve same are being implemented in quick succession.
In two years, the governor has inaugurated several projects, including two bridges in Abule Egba and Ajah, which were hitherto bedevilled by traffic snarl; scaled up security and emergency rescue operations with state of the art facilities and equipment; constructed several inner roads to open up the hinterland and multiple laybys to ease traffic, among other gigantic projects.
At the last count, over 100 projects are currently ongoing across all the sectors, and the projects, upon completion, would change the face of Lagos and set it on sound pedestal.
To monitor the progress of work, Ambode and top members of his cabinet, visited some of the sites of the projects last week.
The first point of call was the Oworonshoki Lagoon reclamation project, which is designed to transform the blighted area to major tourism, transportation and entertainment hubs.
At the site, Ambode clarified that contrary to some reports in the media, the project was not a housing scheme but part of the overall programme for Lagos to emerge as the entertainment hub for Africa. “I have read some reports in the papers insinuating that this project is a housing scheme or whether we want to sell the reclaimed land. That is not the situation and this project is a special one designed to make the state emerge as the tourism hub of Africa,” he said.
According to him, 30 hectares of land have been reclaimed out of the 50 planned for the scheme, while upon completion, the project would end the perennial flooding in the area, and would also accommodate boutique hotel, event centres, cinema, clubs, bars, bus/ferry terminal, parking space with capacity for about 1000 vehicles, among others.
From the Oworonshoki Lagoon reclamation site, the governor and his team moved to Ilaje and Bariga axis where the network of roads were being upgraded in Ilaje, Odunsi and Ariyo streets. A modern jetty is also being constructed.
Receiving Ambode and his entourage, Chairman of Bariga Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Hon Kolade Alabi, said his constituents were indeed grateful to the state government for the projects being implemented to make their life comfortable and boost their commerce.
Responding, the governor commended the contractor handling the roads and new jetty projects, Messrs Avatar Global Resources Limited, for the level of work done so far and the assurance that the projects would be delivered by July.
He recalled the deplorable conditions of the roads before the decision of the government to intervene, saying it was gratifying that the projects were progressing as planned and would soon be commissioned.
“I want to commend the contractors for a job well done so far so good. We have been assured that the roads and the new jetty through which other parts of the state can be linked through the waterways will be ready by July. In a bid to further continue with the development of this axis and cater for the growth in economic activities that the projects would facilitate to the area, we are going to immediately commence the construction of a comprehensive health centre in Ashogbon,” the governor said.
At the inspection of new Model College, Sabo in Yaba, which is billed to be delivered in December alongside that of Angus Model College in Shomolu, the Ambode said the intention of his administration was to scale up infrastructure in public schools across the state, starting with the commencement of massive rehabilitation of public schools.
He said: “What we are seeing here is our new concept of what a model college should look like and that is why in this complex we have about 36 classrooms, nine laboratories, and because of the land space here, we don’t really have a recreational facility around but the ones we are building in Ojo and Shomolu, they have all the necessary recreation facilities that should actually go with a modern secondary school.
“The idea is that we want to increase the number of model colleges that we have; we also want to create a new template of how public secondary school should look like moving forward.”
The governor added that his administration accepted the fact that a lot of public schools in the state were not in proper shape and that in addressing the challenge, the government would soon commence massive rehabilitation of public schools.
Ambode was also at the Oshodi Transport Interchange being constructed by an indigenous firm, Messrs Planet Projects.
The interchange, which is designed to redefine public transportation not only in Lagos but in Nigeria, seeks to create a world class central business district with focus on transportation, security, environment and urban renewal. The interchange has 3-multi-storey bus terminals with waiting area, loading bays, ticketing stands, drivers lounge, parking areas, conveniences, surveillance tower and CCTV gadgets. Other features include accessible walkways, pedestrian bridges/sky-walks to link the three terminals, shopping malls with street lighting and a dedicated security team on ground. Upon completion, the project would bring about organised transport system, boost intra-tourism for Oshodi, bequeath iconic city gateway to the state, and ensure secured and comfortable environment, as well as economic growth and job creation.
After the brief of the contractor and Managing Director, Planet Projects, Mr. Biodun Otunola, on the level of work, Ambode said it was gratifying that such gigantic project was being constructed by a Nigerian firm with 100 per cent Nigerian workers.
“This is a good development for Nigeria. The engineers and workers here are solely Nigerians and it shows that the future prosperity of Nigeria is assured,” he said. The interchange is expected to be delivered by September, 2018.
At the 10-lane Airport Road project the governor was assured by the contractors handling the project that it would be delivered in December. The governor, it would be recalled, had approved the extension of the project to Ladipo International Market axis along Oshodi Apapa Expressway, as well as the construction of a pedestrian bridge at Toyota Bus Stop in response to the yearnings of traders and residents of the area.
Speaking at the U-turn flyover point along Airport Road after being briefed by Messrs Hi-Tech Construction Company, the governor appealed to residents to bear with the government for the inconvenience being experienced because of the construction work, saying that the project was designed to change the face of Lagos for good and improve on the economy.
While urging those whose structures gave way for the project to bear with the government, Ambode assured the people that he would soon commence payment of compensation to them once the necessary paper works are concluded.
The design of the Airport, include the reconstruction and expansion of the existing carriage to three-lane expressway on both directions; construction of two-lane service road in both directions; construction of Ramp Bridge to provide a U-turn from Ajao Estate to Airport; construction of a flyover at NAHCO/Toll Gate, and drainage works.
Others include the removal of existing pedestrian bridge at Ajao Estate and construction of pedestrian bridges at Ajao Estate and NAHCO/Hajj Camp, construction of Slip Road to provide access to Ajao Estate, construction of Lay-bys and installation of street lights, among others. The governor was also inspected the Maternity Centre in Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja popularly known as Ayinke House.
Ayinke House is a 162-bed space facility, which is expandable to 250, with other features such as 22 neo-natal intensive care units, 16 intensive care units for adults, five fully equipped theatres, laboratory, common ward, maternal and child care centre, among others.
Ambode said it was gratifying that Ayinke House designed to be the major baby factory of the state, would be delivered in June and commissioned for public use by July.
The Ambode administration had earlier inaugurated a helipad for medical emergency at LASUTH and also constructed alternative road to LASUTH to facilitate easy and prompt access to the facility, among other major projects within the health sector.
The last point of call for the day was the ongoing Pen Cinema Flyover which is also designed to significantly address the traffic snarl associated with the area, boost commerce and improve on the aesthetics of Agege and environs.
After receiving briefings from the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Adebowale Adesanya, and the construction firm handling the project, Ambode expressed satisfaction with work done, and explained the rationale behind the project.
He said: “When you add the total length of the Pen Cinema Bridge together, it is equivalent of Ajah and Abule Egba Bridges. In terms of the width, it is wider. We are impressed with the progress of work here.
“We believe this flyover will change forever the economic landscape of the Agege axis because it comes with its economic value.”
With these and other projects spread across the state, including the J.K Randle Centre and reconstructed Onikan Stadium, expected to be completed by December 2018, the people’s joy could only be fuller than the one expressed during Ambode’s inspection tour.
–––Anibaba, a journalist, wrote in from Ikorodu