• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Impacting infrastructure development in Lagos through alternative financing models

Since the return to democratic rule in 1999, Lagos State has maintained high level developmental trajectory leveraging public-private partnership (PPP) model to deliver dividends of democracy to the citizenry. This infact x-rays the footprints of Ope George in the execution of his mandate as the special adviser to the Lagos State governor on PPP; core of which is to deliver infrastructure development.

Infrastructure holds the ace for real development and socio-economic growth in any country. Thus, Lagos State in its determination to reduce infrastructure deficit in a more sustainable way, has emerged the go-to reference in the deployment of PPP structures to bolster massive infrastructure development.
Today, the gains of PPP are evident across numerous sectors of the state – roads, traffic management, health, education, housing, waste management, water transportation, agriculture, power, railway, among others.

Worthy of mention is the man behind the massive infrastructure development witnessed in the state in recent years. He is Ope George, the Special Adviser to the Governor on PPP. George, who was first appointed in 2017 as the director-general of the PPP Office, has today made Lagos what can be proudly described as ‘a construction zone’ in light of multiple PPP-led projects that have been completed; ongoing and those that the bid processes have been opened and awaiting conclusion.

An objective appraisal of his scorecards reveals how big the PPP portfolios in Lagos have grown since he assumed office in 2017. Key among his achievements is that the Lagos PPP Office under George has made the state the preferred destination for high-value private investors.

Walking round the state across the traditional five divisions of Ikeja, Badagry, Ikorodu, Lagos and Epe (IBILE), several projects funded through PPP are undeniably visible.

Through his model people-friendly PPPs, the state today is synonymous with many landmark infrastructure projects. One of such exciting projects is the proposed 38-km long 4th Mainland Bridge to connect Lagos Island via Lekki, Langbasa and Baiyeku towns, across Lagos Lagoon to Itamaga in Ikorodu.

Bidders are currently being short-listed and construction is expected to start soon. On completion, the bridge will significantly cut down travel time for residents commuting from Ikorodu to the Island. Also, the Lagos PPP Office, under George, has been very crucial in the concession of various services to ensure the smooth running of the Blue and Red Rails.

The first phase of the blue rail will run from Marina to Mile 2, while the second phase will extend to Okokomaiko. On the other hand, the first phase of the red rail will run from Oyingbo to Agbado, a boundary community in Ogun State, while the second phase will extend to Iddo.

Speaking after touring the rail infrastructure projects in Agege, Ikeja, Mushin and Ebute Meta recently, the governor revealed that all the physical infrastructure for the red rail would be completed by December 2022, while rail services would commence in the first quarter of 2023, adding that the red line was expected to move 700,000 passengers daily, thereby significantly decongesting the roads.

The ongoing construction of about 8,000 bed spaces in six blocks at the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo is another achievement of the PPP Office. When completed, the hostels will significantly solve the accommodation problem for the students, enhance learning, as well as boost the state government’s reviewed policy to convert the university from non-residential to on-campus residency.

Read also: Osinbajo inaugurates National Council on Infrastructures

The PPP office has equally delivered several completed and ongoing housing projects aimed to reduce the housing deficit in the state. The Ilubirin Housing Estate currently being built on reclaimed land in Ikoyi, at the foot of the 3rd Mainland Bridge, opposite the Lagos Lagoon Waterfront, is one of such housing schemes.
In the area of traffic management, the 5000-capacity Truck Park in Orile Iganmu is among the numerous PPP infrastructure projects. Even though construction is ongoing, operations have commenced and it has started yielding results in the gradual decongestion of Apapa traffic caused by trucks.

The realisation of the Smart City and Greater Lagos initiatives is also advancing with the laying of fiber optics of about 2000km. This project, on completion will accelerate access to broadband and increase usage of fast, efficient Wifi by residents.
The George’s led team at the PPP office has also impacted healthcare delivery and increasing access to quality health services by the residents. This includes the delivery of radiology and x-ray services at Maternal and Child Hospitals in Ajah, a move geared towards reducing infant mortality and maternal death in the state.

The ongoing process for the construction of the ultra-modern Medical Park in Ikoyi as a centre of medical excellence to be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and specialists from diverse fields of medicine, is another gain of PPP. The medipark is targeted at reducing overseas medical tourism among Nigerians as well as conserving foreign exchange.

Governor Sanwo-Olu, in acknowledgement of the sterling performance of George, in February 2022, re-designated him as the Special Adviser to the Governor on PPP, thereby making him a member of the Lagos State Executive Council. George boasts a rich blend of work experience in the private and public sectors.

Prior to his current position, he has served as Senior Special Assistant on Economic Matters to former Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, until 2009, when he was appointed as the acting managing director of Lekki Worldwide Investments Limited – the Lagos State government’s investment vehicle for the Lekki Free Zone – and served until 2015.

His private sector experience includes playing key roles at Citibank N.A, London; KPMG London and French telecom company SAGEM. A consumate administrator and a scholar of no mean repute, George holds the Bachelor’s degree in Business Economics of the University of Leicester, England, and the Master of Science (MSc.) degree in International Business from the Manchester School of Management, at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.

On what motivates him, George says his personal drive, passion and utmost commitment is to promote a society that works for the good of all. Indeed, over the past five years in the saddle as the chief driver of the Lagos Office of PPP, his exemplary feat in the Lagos infrastructure drive across critical sectors has been phenomenal.

Oni, an entrepreneur, writes from Lagos