Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola on Sunday inspected the Iganmu, Ijora-Badia under bridge and the immediate environment around the on-going Ijora Housing Estate under the Lagos Home Ownership and Mortgage Scheme (Lagos HOMS), saying his administration will continue to pursue its zero tolerance policy for all forms of environmental degradation across the State.
Governor Fashola, who was accompanied on the inspection by some members of the State Executive Council and other heads of government agencies, told newsmen after the inspection that such occurrence as living under the bridge, trading on the streets, selling cattle and related items at roadsides in any part of the State remains unacceptable.
The Governor declared, “We can’t allow people to live under bridges, so there will be zero tolerance for that; we won’t allow it, we won’t allow people to trade on the streets, we won’t allow people sell cattle or all of those things by the roadside; it is not going to happen; so people must know that those kinds of behaviour are unacceptable”.
Noting that the work of regeneration and urban renewal is being made more arduous by the spiral increase in the population of the State, the Governor, who assured that his administration was equal to the task of managing the situation added that Government is emboldened by the successes it has recorded in the cleanup of some hitherto degraded areas of the State.
“The population is increasing on a daily basis; migration here really multiplies the enormity of the work here. But this is what we signed for and we are emboldened by the success we have recorded in urban renewal across the State to reclaim this kind of unacceptable conditions and turn them into acceptable and beneficial condition”, he said.
According to the Governor, “It brings with it mixed feelings. Sometimes people do not understand what it is all about until it is finished. It is like when you want to smell roses you must also expect that you could be pricked by thorns. But the smell of roses ultimately makes it more worth it”.
He said, however, that the human challenge in the whole effort to reclaim the city is how people choose to live adding, “I continue to say that people must take decision on how they choose to live. It is discouraging that we build and clear drainages but when we come back to them what we see is human waste, food and thrash in drainages, yet the same people come back when it rains to say they are flooded”.
“Ordinarily there shouldn’t be refuse in a drain in any part of the world that I know. So we must challenge ourselves that we must change in the choices that we make; people hanging clothes on the highway, people relocating in the pursuit of unreal expectations, these are unacceptable”, the Governor said.
Underscoring the futility inherent in the idea of relocating from one’s family in pursuit of uncertainties, Governor Fashola cited the example of the man he met in the course of the inspection who said he came from Katsina to make money and has now been stranded and forced to live under the bridge and beg for a living.
The man, Nurudeen Hassan, who was seen sitting under the Ijora-Badia Bridge, had told the Governor that he left his wife and children in Katsina because he believed he could make money by coming to Lagos.
“His story clearly has become a tragedy because he sleeps under the bridge. He left a home no matter how small it is and his target as he sat there was how to raise N30, 000 to go back. The dream has died in a sense and I think he better understands now that he is better off at home because he had a business there. He had a shop where he said he was selling recharge cards and some other things”.
He assured that the efforts to clean the city would succeed adding, “I am sure that our experience in cleaning up some very devastated places like Oshodi, cleaning up Obalende, will serve us in good stead. We will get this one right, I am optimistic”.
The Governor, however, appealed to the people to stop using the drains built with their tax money as refuse dumps and trash bins advising them instead to patronize the PSP “It is the more patronage that the PSP gets that will create more jobs in that line and solve the problem of unemployment because taking waste out of our immediate environment requires people to do that kind of work and they get paid for it”, he said.
On the on-going housing project, Governor Fashola said, “The housing development here is making progress, a lot of work is going on offsite and by the time the piling, which is going on, also settles we will gain more speed and perhaps that will bring more credibility and acceptability into the idea behind it”.
Also accompanying the Governor on the tour were Chief of Staff, Mr. Lanre Babalola, Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services, Engineer Hakeem Ogunbambi and his Physical Planning and Urban Development counterpart, TPL Olutoyin Ayinde, Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Major Tunde Panox (rtd), among other members of the State Executive Council, Managing Director, Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency, Dr. Titi Anibaba and other top government functionaries.