Saturday, May 23, 2009

State govt to transform Lagos into 'huge construction site'

In line with Governor Babatunde Fashola’s avowed commitment to rapid development of infrastructure, the many physical projects going on in Lagos have turned the state into a “huge construction site.”

This, according to the Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Ganiyu Johnson, was because the projects were spread across the 57 Local Government Councils and Development Areas, and were already impacting positively on the residents.

Speaking at the handing over of three roads in Lagos Mainland Local Government Council on Tuesday, Fashola commended the residents for promptly paying their taxes and showing great understanding in the relocation of structures, saying, these had helped in no small measure in the transformation efforts.

The roads, which were handed over to the community included Montgomery, Aje and Commercial Avenue in Yaba. The governor recalled with nostalgia the beauty of old Yaba, which became an attractive real estate haven and it played host to Nigeria’s emerging middle class immediately after independence.

The three roads formed the second phase of the infrastructural improvement of Yaba from Jibowu to Iddo, comprising 37 roads and six pedestrian bridges at strategic locations and divided into four phases.

Montgomery, Aje Streets and Commercial Avenue have a combined length of 1.51 kilometres and an average width of 10 metres, with the contract awarded to Messrs P. W. Nigeria Limited in February 2008.

The scope of work included relocation of telecoms, water and Power Holding Company of Nigeria services; demolition and replacement of wall fences; provision of longitudinal and transverse service ducts; and scarification and carting away of bad materials.

Others were earthworks with the use of geo-textile materials, provision of covered concrete drains and culverts to act as walkways, 100 millimetre asphalt surfacing, street lighting with alternative source of power supply and road signage/lane markings.

A day after the inauguration of the roads, it was the turn of the state Ministry of Works and Infrastructure to present its scorecard for the past two years.

Johnson, who spoke at the 2009 ministerial press briefing of the ministry said that the government had committed a total of N91.96bn to construction of new roads and rehabilitation of existing ones as well as provision of other road infrastructure in the last two years.

Out of this figure, N61.96bn was budgeted for last year, while the balance of N30bn is for the year 2009, representing a drop of over 100 per cent in budgetary allocations for road infrastructure in the current fiscal year.

However, the government had given an assurance that the cut in budgetary provisions will not affect the rate of road construction and rehabilitation currently going on in the state and the provision of other road infrastructure like drainages and street lights.

The special adviser said that the government would rely on the private sector for assistance in sustaining the current pace of road works.

He said, “It is true that there is a drop in our budget for road construction and upgrading/rehabilitation, but I can tell you that the private sector will work with us to develop some of our road infrastructure under the Public-Private Partnership model. The government does not need to carry the burden alone.”

Giving a breakdown of the budget on roads for the period under consideration, Johnson said that about N14.4bn would be on upgrading and rehabilitating of road infrastructure in 2008, while N7bn would be spent for the same purpose in 2009. A total of N47.56bn was spent on fresh construction last year, while N23bn would be spent on road construction this year.

The special adviser said that between May 2007 and now, 63 road projects covering 70.35 kilometres were awarded for rehabilitation with 19 already completed and 59 ongoing.

Similarly, a total of 111.8 kilometres of roads and bridges was constructed in the period, translating into 56 awarded projects, out of which 11 had been completed, while 74 are ongoing.

A parastatal of the ministry, the Public Works Corporation, also completed rehabilitation work on 43 roads covering 7,985 kilometres within the same period.

Apart from road infrastructure, the ministry is also transforming the state’s magistrate and high courts by building new structures and furnishing them appropriately to enhance administration of justice.

It is also redesigning, constructing and rehabilitating all public buildings to meet present day challenges and is providing mini independent power projects to have a safe city through the provision of street lights.

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