IT will be exactly two years that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu took over the reins of governance in Lagos on May 29.
Two weeks to the time, like a brilliant scholar, who is in a hurry to show his parents his report card, the governor reeled out his achievements after 714 days in office, saying he would have done more but for the COVID-19 pandemic. He also spoke on the challenges of governing the centre of excellence and why Lagos must get it right
I count our mandate by the days. For me, I know what it means to sleep and wake up every day and you have that huge challenge on you. It is a challenge of honour, of immense trust and a sense of belief that people have given to you. So, as tough as the job is and looking for that job and asking God to give you that job, it is also a very difficult job. So, two years into it, how would I with all sense of humility rate and rank myself?
I would say that we have actually not disappointed the people that gave us this mandate. We started this government with an economic agenda, which I’m sure you all know under the THEMES programme. And we all went into it with full sense of purpose, that we would work, break barriers, make audacious decisions and we would raise the level of governance.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 came in about 15 months ago, slowed us down in some areas extensively, because Lagos, all throughout, even up to now, continues to remain the epicentre. But it has actually not stopped us from achieving a lot of the things we had wanted to achieve because we realise that stories and excuses cannot be a thing that we’re going to put forward.
So, if I take each of the pillars in the THEMES agenda, we have intervened extensively in each and every one of them.
The very first one which is traffic management and transportation was something borne out of what we asked our citizens during all of these times that what would you want us to do first for you and they said, just solve the traffic challenge for us. They said we should give them means of moving from one area to another very quickly and efficiently.
So, what have we done? We have in the last two years created, on an ongoing basis, an opportunity where we can utilise the three modes of transportation that is available for us in Lagos-rail, roads and waterways. For the rail, we have not completed it, but we are certain that before the end of our four years tenure, rail will move in Lagos.
Why do we say so? We have spent more money in the last two years than what we did in the last six years and we are confident now that we will take that project, two of them – the Blue Line, and the Red Line, to completion because we have seen what we called the financial closure. We have direct throughputs into how we can raise money to complete it. We have ordered rolling stock, especially for the blue line, which is the one coming on phase one from Mile 2 to Marina.
The two terminals that are remaining are the Mile 2 terminal and the Marina terminal. When you are driving in, immediately after Marina, you see that there is a big hole that they have started excavating, that is actually the construction for the terminal for Marina. And you can see that it is extended to right in front of the State House, Marina. That will be the last parking point for the Blue Line. So, we are convinced that we would see rail.
What about the Red Line?
The Red Line is even the most audacious. We are certain that in the remaining two years, we would have completed 10 stations. We have approved to build four overpasses; Federal Government is supposed to build another four for us but we are convinced because we have raised finance to build our own four overpasses, and the plan around the rolling stock is completed and is finalised. So, what are we saying, we’re saying that in two years time, we believe that Lagosians will be moving on rail.
How about the Bus Rapid Transport system?
For buses, which is the BRT, we’ve commissioned over 600 buses in the course of two years and before the end of this month, we are also launching another 100 new high capacity buses. We are introducing what we call the Last Mile buses and we are starting with the first 350 buses. Almost 500 are around but we are starting with the first 350. They are small eight to nine-seater buses and they are called First Mile and Last Mile.