• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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Light-up Lagos Project and safety of public infrastructure


Why Cities Prosper’ should be a required reading for public servants, policymakers, politicians and anyone concerned with economic development. Unarguably, no nation has emerged as one by asking God to solve its problems. For instance, economic powerhouse cities such as New York and London are ahead of the bunch by virtues of building strong institutions, productivity, infrastructure development, quality of life, equity, social inclusion and environmental sustainability. The two are competitive in every sphere of life, from fashion to music, finance, telecommunications and lots more. Interestingly, both also run a 24-hour economy. 24-hour economy is common with economically powerful cities such as Tokyo, Los Angeles, Seoul, Paris, Osaka-Kobe, Shanghai, Chicago and Moscow.

Obviously, the fence that divides these economic powerhouses and African countries such as Nigeria has to do with visionary leadership and enlightened followership. There is no doubt that good institutions play a big role in the prosperity of the big cities. The combination of the two eventually leads to good governance with attendant improvement in infrastructure.

In Nigeria, it is no longer news that power generation and supply have been the major bane of our development and prosperity. This has been so even when the economy was booming. Currently, we are experiencing serious economic difficulties as a result of the sharp fall in the global price of oil. This, coupled with broaden infrastructural deficit, portends great danger for us as a nation. As much as we talk of attracting foreign investments, if the much-desired infrastructure is not effectively put in place, we can as well forget it.

Cheeringly though, before our very eyes, ongoing infrastructure and social projects across Lagos State have shown that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s campaign mantra of “Itesiwaju ilu eko loje wa logun” and his 2016 budget christened “The People’s Budget” are not mere political statements. Indeed, they demonstrate the governor’s intention to put Lagos on the path of prosperity akin to those of great cities previously mentioned. This is quite instructive as Lagos remains the economic powerhouse of the country. Just as people yearn to visit or relocate to the afore-mentioned cities, Lagos is where every Nigerian dreams to live in. Lagos stands out among the states in the country in terms of having visionary thinkers in leadership positions.

Since he came onboard last May, Ambode has simply continued in the well-established tradition of visionary leadership in Lagos. The Ambode administration has established a new and infectious atmosphere of optimism with his placing of infrastructure development at the heart of sustainable economic development in Lagos. Consequently, the administration has been fixing security problem, traffic snarls, infrastructural deficit, empowering small and medium scale enterprises and upgrading health facilities.

Quietly but steadily, the Ambode administration is employing both revolutionary and evolutionary approach in charting a new course for the Centre of Excellence. It could be recalled that in October 2015, Ambode announced a gigantic programme to light up some 67 communities in Lagos. True to his talk, by December 2015, streetlights had been installed from Berger to Lekki, Ikorodu to Lagos Island and the entire Ikeja axis as well as Victoria Island and Ikoyi. Areas where streetlights were mere decorations in the past are now illuminated in many other areas of the state. The project “Light up Lagos” is among those currently doing the talking to Lagosians and visitors to the state. The lght up project is a clear strategy conceived to boost commercial activities in Lagos metropolis and hence enrol the city into the premier league of those running a 24-hour economy.

In order to ensure that the power need of the people is met, the administration recently inaugurated a committee consisting of representatives from the state government and industry experts from the private sector, urging them to provide a sustainable guide in the development of a roadmap for reliable power supply in the state, foster collaboration and develop a congress or platform for all major power stakeholders in the state and the private sector.

It is pertinent at this juncture to consider the benefits of electrifying the landscape of a megapolis occupied by more than 20 million citizens. For one, criminals will no longer operate under the cover of darkness, thus enhancing security and safety of lives and business. Second, artisans and small scale business operators can function with no worries over extended business hours. The economic impact of this is that it will boost citizens’ earning capacity as thousands of direct and indirect jobs will be created through this groundbreaking electrification project.

The project isn’t just about meeting safety needs through code compliance or achieving an aesthetic effect. It presents a significant opportunity to fundamentally improve the quality of life of citizens. Properly considered, lighting can positively impact the ‘total architecture’ of our cities; reinforcing urban design principles, enhancing cultural experiences and encouraging social interaction.

It is, however, important that Lagosians take ownership of this laudable project by ensuring that they are not vandalised. Over the years, it has been discovered that one of the banes of infrastructure development in the metropolis is the vandalism of public infrastructure. Lack of civic sense is widespread in our society. People urinate and defecate in public places with reckless abandon. They vandalize and steal public property with impunity. They damage road medians as if to prove that it is not needed. Blockage of drainage system with refuse when it rains is a common phenomenon. Similarly, excavation is done indiscriminately and carelessly. The list of anti-social and unpatriotic attitudes of our people is endless. Yet, we blame government whenever the consequences of our actions stare us in the face.

What is, perhaps, even more intriguing is that it is often the same people that perpetrate these acts or keep silent when public property is vandalized or stolen that are quick to condemn government whenever the effect of their conduct bounces back on them. Shouldn’t it be clear to everybody when public light cables are vandalized that long days of darkness have been courted? What do we expect when in contravention of environmental law we build structures on drainage channels and indiscriminately dump refuse inside street drains if not flood? It is perhaps a tragedy that we allow our lack of civic sense to harm ourselves.

One major way to safeguard public infrastructure is for everyone to be vigilant and report vandals to police or community leaders for punitive measure(s) to be meted on culprits. It is only when everyone realizes that public infrastructure is meant to serve public interest that the trend of vandalism could be reasonably contained.

Under whatever guise, no one has any right to damage, steal or buy public property. Steel companies in the state have been fingered as buyers of this vital property from hoodlums in the name of excavators. Painfully, buying and selling of vandalized property is usually at ridiculous prices while the effect is at exorbitant price.

A state like Lagos that has many needs to use its scarce resources on can ill afford to waste such resources on replacing vandalized property by the same citizens it is working hard to serve.

Rasak Musbau