By Fikayo Owoeye -October 16, 2018
It is no longer news that Governor Akinwumi Ambode failed in securing his party’s ticket for the next gubernatorial election and by implication, the current administration in Lagos State comes to an end on May 29 2019 when a new administration will be sworn in.
As party campaigns for the next year’s elections gather momentum, there are growing concerns among the business community over the fate of some current government policies in areas of infrastructural projects, and job creation initiatives.
In this article, Nairametrics takes a look at some ongoing projects vis-a-vis policies under threat with the exit of the present administration in Lagos State next year.
The City Light Rail Project
The mass transit rail project, called the Blue Line, awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), which is to run between Mile 2 and Marina has suffered several delays.
When the Ambode-led government came on board, he stated that the project would be delivered to Lagos residents in 12 months. That deadline fell on July 2016; in fact, five months after he promised to deliver the project, he shifted the goalpost and said it would be completed in December 2016. But by November 2016, the governor made another volte-face, extending the date of completion to sometime before the end of 2019.
Ongoing Road Projects
A visit to some major road project sites such as the Murtala Muhammed Airport road, Pen Cinema Bridge in Agege, and Iyana Ipaja road shows that the pace of work has slowed down significantly.
The Lagos State Government had promised to deliver the Oshodi-Airport Road in 15 months. It was to be expanded from four to 10 lanes and work commenced in September 2017. The Agege Pen Cinema Bridge has a December 2018 completion date.
Sadly, with the current pace of work on these projects, there are doubts over the ability of the present government to deliver before the expiration of this administration, while residents of these areas continue face untold hardships daily.
Light Up Lagos Power Project
The Ambode-led government launched the “Light-Up Lagos Project” which was conceived to light up major highways and streets in the Lagos metropolis with the aim of boosting commercial activities, enhancing security, and improving the aesthetics of the state and living standards for residents.
The project which has three segments (Light up Lagos Advisory Committee, Community Electrification, and the Street Lighting Initiative) was greeted with high hopes among residents, but most highways in Lagos are still in total darkness.
Early this year, the Lagos State government signed a N2.52 billion partnership agreement with a UK firm to construct 10,000 LED street lights covering 300km across the state. Lagosians still await the execution of this project.
The Cleaner Lagos Initiative
Waste management has been a major challenge in the state. The Ambode administration, through the Ministry of Environment, introduced the Cleaner Lagos Initiative and subsequently appointed Visionscape Sanitation Solution Limited, as its strategic partner for the deployment of waste management infrastructure in the state.
Subsequently, the State Executive Council passed a resolution to secure the financing structure adopted by Visionscape and its partners to raise up to N50 billion in bonds for the implementation of the CLI through the issuance of an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) as a charge on the State Internally Generated Revenue Account/ Environmental Trust Fund. The company thereafter raised an initial first tranche of its bond issuance, a N27 billion at 17.5% fixed rate with a five-year maturity due 2022.
Currently, there is an ominous future for Visionscape. Last week, the company vowed to suspend its operation following attacks by residents on its staff and equipment as a result of political outcomes in the state.
Lagos State Employment Trust Fund
One of the high points of the Ambode administration is the establishment of the Code Lagos Initiative and the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund. The fund was established to provide financial support to residents of the state, for job, wealth creation, and to tackle unemployment. The fund is expected to create 300,000 direct and 600,000 indirect jobs within a period of three years by supporting at least 100,000 MSMEs in the state. It is, however, not certain if a new administration will continue with these laudable initiatives.
Ideally, Government should be a continuum, where an incoming administration continues with the projects and policies of the preceding administration, but this is not the case in the Nigerian political landscape as several projects are starved of funds immediately a new government comes into power. The Ambode administration also scrapped several policies and projects of the Fashola administration.
Sadly, the list of abandoned projects and policy somersaults in the state are endless, all of which are not good signals to investors. Recall that the Lagos State Government terminated a PPP arrangement it entered with Lekki Concession Company, LCC, which could have seen it fund the construction of the Lekki-Epe Expressway and recoup its investment through tolling on the road over a period of 30 years. The government had to buy back the concession agreement by way of buying back the company.
Whichever way the pendulum swings at the next governorship election in the state, the new administration should act maturely by improving the existing infrastructure in the state. The race of making Lagos a “smart city” can only be achieved if there is consistent improvement of infrastructure in the state.