Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola is on appraisal tour of on-going projects in the state that are at various stages of completion. The projects include Light Rail Mass Transit (Blue Line) and retrofitting of ferries at the Mile 2 Jetty. He expressed satisfaction generally for the projects, noting that although there has been some delay, there has also been significant progress in the projects.
Projects inspected include the National Arts Theatre Terminus and interchange for buses and park and ride, the four-kilometre of tracks being laid from Orile to Mile 2, Mile 2 Terminal and works yard for the Lagos – Badagry Expressway project.
The governor also visited the Mile 2 Jetty Terminus where he inspected ongoing retrofitting work on five 80-seater aluminium ferries to be deployed for subsidized water transportation by the Lagos Ferry Services Company.
Fielding questions from newsmen after the inspection, Fashola said the contractors have attributed the delay to adverse weather.
“When we came here earlier this year, I was told that the section from Costain, Iganmu to Mile 2 would be completed by the end of July. I filed that in my head and I decided yesterday was end of July and I should come and see the progress here. Some progress has been made clearly”.
“You can see the rail project has advanced. They have covered more track lanes, about four kilometres of track has been laid. About eight kilometres have been logged preparatory for more track lanes”, the Governor said adding, “You could see people at work, welding, casting and we also visited the works yard for the Badagry Expressway where we have about seven kilometres of concrete beams for drainage already precast and ready to go once the sand-filling and the preparation is done”.
“The section of the rail from Costain to Marina now is under consideration for award; that is another five kilometres. If you add that to the one from Mile 2 to Costain, that is eight kilometres. If you add that together that is 13 kilometres of rail road”, he said.
Fashola, who was conducted round the project by the Blue Line Light Rail Project Manager, Mr. Li Bing, further disclosed that the contractors would start asphalting the Mile 2 bound section of the Lagos – Badagry Expressway, from FESTAC Gate to Trade Fair, by the end of August while the same work on the Trade Fair bound section, from Mile 2 to Trade fair, would commence by September.
Describing the project as a transport as well as an economic solution, Governor Fashola declared, “And you see thousands of Nigerians working on those sites; so for us it is a transport solution and also an economic solution, a job creation solution. So many things are involved there”.
Commenting on the progress of work at the Mile 2 Jetty, Fashola, who recalled that during his earlier visit to the Jetty, there were several dilapidated and abandoned boats sunk in water, said five of the boats have been lifted out of the water for retrofitting and three have had advanced retrofitting work while the other two were being cleaned.
“The engines are on their way so we are on course. I think about two or three of them should be ready to start operations by the end of this year and the last three should be ready by the first quarter of next year with our Lagos Ferry Service”, the governor said, explaining further that the Lagos State Ferry Service Company would be fully owned by the Government “to work and subsidize ferry service for middle level and poor commuters, somewhat different from what the private operators, whom we are also licensing, would be providing”.
“We are expecting more private operators to bring in more ferries; we have granted more licenses, I think we have about 59 operators and 110 ferries on the waterways. We are expecting some ramp up gradually. You remember about three years ago we started with just about six ferries now we have about 109 ferries. The ridership has also increased to about 1.8 million per month”.
He explained that one of the boats, a flat pontoon just imported from Europe, would be ferrying vehicles alone across the waters for car owners who do not wish to drive adding that a second one was being awaited.
“Each of them can carry eight vehicles. That is the first one that has been delivered; we are waiting for the second one which is being shipped from Europe. It will also give choice to people who don’t want to drive; they just put their vehicles on the pontoon and ferry them across to their next destination”, the Governor said adding that the jetties were being designed to allow the roll-on roll-off type facilities to enable such people to just drive in at the entry point and drive-off at the exit point.
On the seeming uncontrolled commercial activities on the Mile 2 section of the Lagos Badagry Expressway, Governor Fashola said it was one of the problems of urban renewal pointing out that people should not be prevented from earning their living legitimately just because Government was undertaking urban renewal.
“The problem of urban renewal includes that people have to be managed. Life cannot stop because we want to do urban renewal. People also have to survive. Those people are earning a living in a legitimate way, so we respect that so long as they do it while respecting that commuters also have to move”, the governor said.
He, however, explained that all the rail stations have shops in them adding, “It is when all of this has been put in place that all of the trading in the fullness of time will leave the road and we will be on to a much more orderly and much more organized society and economy”.
“The problem is as a result of what we are doing at the same time. In terms of transportation, we are implementing about five major solutions at the same time. It is not easy. It has been possible so far with the cooperation of the people who have continued to trust, who have continued to sacrifice, who have continued to contribute. I do not know any city in the world today that are operating five major transport solutions simultaneously, I don’t know any”, governor Fashola said.