It will be an understatement to state that the Fashola administration in Lagos State has clearly distinguished itself as an innovative and passionate government whose major aspiration is to keep breaking new grounds across all sectors. Over the past few years, under the leadership of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, the government of the state has been steadily turning Lagos into what is rapidly becoming one of the most vibrant and best-managed growth points of West Africa.
All over the country, the Fashola administration is renowned for its trail-blazing prowess. Today, its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system has become a model for other African countries. Its innovation in the security sector, the Lagos State Security Trust Fund, is now being replicated across the country to tackle security issues. The Lagos Island and Adiyan Independent Power Plants (IPP) represent the government’s innovative response to the abysmal power situation in the country.
In the country today, the Ehingbeti Economic Summit remains a pacesetter for economic formulations and implementations while the state’s record and archive agency, LASRAB, has continued to point the way forward in the sector.
The beautiful thing, however, is that the state government is not resting on its oars. It would be unbecoming to do otherwise. The benchmarks are cities of the world that are working where visible developmental projects, aside mere figures, are the yardsticks for adjudging successful governments.
As it is customary in Lagos, in the past six years, Fashola used the occasion of the last Democracy Day on May 29, to commission the new Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge for the use of Lagosians. It would be recalled that the state governor while marking the annual Democracy Day in May 29, 2012, commissioned and presented the equally innovative Traffic Radio 96.1 to Lagosians. Prior to this time, there has not been a radio station in the country that is strictly dedicated to traffic matters. The establishment of Lagos Traffic Radio is part of the several innovative responses of the state government to tackling the perennial traffic challenge in the state.
Like the Lagos Traffic Radio, the Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge is another innovative response from the Fashola government to address the traffic situation in the state. In its traditional style of adding aesthetics values to all its projects, the Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge, the first cable/suspended bridge in Nigeria and the entire West Africa, abounds in creative splendour. The 1.38km connects Ikoyi-Alexander Street to Lekki-Admiralty Way.
A cable-stayed bridge relies on the cables that radiate from the main support pier or piers for further support beyond or in between. This usually results in less support piers being needed, creating a very distinctive look and elegance. The side of the bridge reveals the pattern of cables that are an essential part of the bridge. Although these tend to define the visual appearance of the bridge, the bridge would not be able to withstand the traffic loading without these cables. That is why the bridge is cable stayed. The bridge is spectacular and attractive to the eye and certainly will become a well-known milestone attraction on the Lagos horizon. It will also be a tourist’s attraction as it can be viewed from quite a few varied locations on the Lagos Island.
The history of the project dates back to October, 2008, when it was conceived by the Fashola administration to redress the chaotic traffic condition associated with the axis. Indeed, the edifice is a bonus to the infrastructure longings of Lagosians and the nation, especially in the area of transportation and traffic management. The central bridge, embedded in excellence engineering, has a full length of 466m. The length of its cable bridge which is the suspended section is 170m and the height of its pyron is 87m from water level navigational requirement. The clearance average is 9m above high water level. The width of the bridge, which is the carriageway, is 8m by 2; its walkway is 2.0m by 2; road works at Ikoyi end is 338.7m, while road works at the Lekki end is 311.5m.
For any government that worth its salt, innovation is a key ingredient of governance.
Aside being a necessary tool of governance, innovation is a continuous thing as it has no finishing point. Hence, the state government is continuously thinking and working to improve the lots of the people as evident in all the developmental projects being executed in the state.
Presently, several slums in the state are being upgraded through the Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project (LMDGP). The Mile 12-Ikorodu road is currently being upgraded to accommodate BRT lanes and other latest road infrastructures. The light rail project from National Theatre, Iganmu to Mile 2 is nearing completion. Very soon, the light rail project along the Badagry axis will become a reality. Very soon, the government’s vision of completely transforming the Badagry axis connecting West Africa to Nigeria will soon become a reality. Very soon, unquantifiable wealth and prosperity will rule and reign along the axis.
To integrate innovation into its daily activities, the state government is taking on a leading role in promoting science, technology and innovation as core policy areas that not only hold the key to the state’s future, but could also make it one of the continent’s innovation leaders. There should no illusion, cities that fail to harness the power of innovation will eventually become the customers of those that do. They would become dumpsites to all kinds of goods and products from diverse places across the globe. They would become slaves in their own lands. It is in a bid to forestall this from being the lot of Lagos that the state government is bent on consistently finding new ways to combat local challenges in order to deliver previously unforeseen value.
As the commercial hub for West Africa, the implications of innovation-driven growth for Lagos are both exciting and alarming. A failure to frame and harness innovation might consign future generations of Lagosians to material dependency on those African cities that had seized the mantle when they had the opportunity. This is why the state government strives hard to create an environment in which entrepreneurs can come up with the most innovative products and services.
However, for Lagosians to continue to enjoy the fruits of innovative governance currently on display in the state, they must be ready to play their part, especially as it relates to voluntary payment of tax. It is execrable that only about 3million Lagos residents out of a taxable adult populace of about 8million in its database pay their taxes leaving a huge 5million non-compliant. The implication, is that 3million people are bearing the burden of the entire ‘conservative’ 20million Lagosians going by the 2006 census figures.
For Lagos to keep pace with current innovative pace, everyone must be ready to play a meaningful part. This is the only way forward.
Ogunbiyi is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos
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