A promotion of sustainable commercial and industrial growth through improved business support policies and infrastructure is fundamental to the socio-economic development of any state, says Lagos State governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode
Efforts to make Lagos become a smart city have again been consolidated following the Lagos Corporate Assembly Business Meeting by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode held recently with members of the business community.
Lagos, the commercial nerve of Africa and the number one destination point of business attraction with over 22 million people, has in the last three years improved tremendously economically.
With about 34 billion naira internally generated revenue monthly following increased investments, Lagos is at present witnessing massive infrastructural development in the history of the state. And this has put the state in a more enviable position.
The Corporate Assembly, which was strategically put up by the governor, focused on issues that were considered germane and of economic importance to the development of the state.
The issues under discussion, which bordered on stable power with the embedded project, good transport system, proper waste management system, massive infrastructure, housing, security, empowerment of Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, moderation of fees charged by regulatory agencies, incidence of harassment in real estate by traditional land owners, eradication of domestic and sexual violence, good health care among others, would according to the governor, if properly addressed, bring about the desired smart city, which the state and the country would be proud of.
“This government is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the state is number one business destination in Africa and largest economy,” Ambode said.
“And that is why we are investing heavily in security and infrastructure as these two would guarantee economic growth.
“As I mark my own three years in office, I can say significantly that if there is anything that I have actually achieved in these three years is the security and safety of lives and property as well as infrastructural development in Lagos State.”
The governor said all hands must be on deck to achieve the goal of making the state Africa’s largest economy, as efforts were being put in place by his administration to ensure this is made possible and sustained.
Ambode reiterated that his administration would by 2020 ensure that constant power supply in the state is maintained as the government is working with relevant agencies to achieve the feat.
He stressed that moves were on the way by the Ministry of Energy, Mineral Resources through a “thoroughly bred cluster of plans to ensure that the project is accomplished.”
The State Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Wale Oluwo also confirmed that the task would be met, but added that it would be a gradual process which would begin from few areas and subsequently permeate to all places in the state.
“The feat will be achieved. In fact the first phase of the project will kick off in July, 2018 with 1,000 megawatts. And the plan is to generate 3,000 megawatts within the next five years.
“The first phase would begin with 13 locations which would be made known later as the State Executive Council would have to approve it first before the announcement,” Oluwo said.
The commissioner said other related areas for the project include “reflective tariff pricing of electricity to attract patient private capital; distribution using 132kV, 33kV and 11kV lines; implementing Waste-to-Energy technology to clean up dump sites; commencing journey to deregulate Nigeria’s power sector from Lagos State and ultimately achieving energy security for the state.
He said the Lagos embedded power programme was aimed at correcting the structural challenges in the Lagos State Power Sector and gradually positioning the state for 24 hours power supply.
He however stressed that Lagosians must have to sacrifice by paying their bills promptly and regularly.
A major subject which again was on the front burner was the Apapa gridlock.
In his reaction, Chairman Apapa Branch of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Mr Faloranmi Odunayo expressed dissatisfaction over the deplorable state of the roads in Tincan Island and Apapa trailer park which according to him is a nightmare to business owners and residents.
He bemoaned the activities of the container-carrying trailers, which on many occasions have provoked gory accidents in the area.
Odunayo noted that the reason for the situation was because there are no adequate link roads in and out of the areas.
He recalled that on many occasions when meetings are fixed at the secretariat in Apapa many of their members avoid such meetings because of the traffic gridlock.
“It is said in many quarters that a safe and efficient transport system is the cornerstone of modern civilisation following its enormous economic and social impacts and consequences.
“A likely effect of this is noted on the cost and standard of living as it affects the pricing of the exchange of goods and services. Also if a good transport system is in place, incidents of mortalities arising from road traffic accidents will be reduced and potentially translates to a better life expectancy and preservation of the human capital capacity.
“Apapa gridlock is causing serious pains for many of us who have businesses there. Something urgently must be done to address the issue.”
In her submission, the former president, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, Dr (Mrs) Nike Akande while noting the importance of private sector contributions to the economy development of the state, harped that the need to ensure free-flow of traffic, especially in Apapa was imperative.
She added: “The area is a major economic boost to Lagos and Nigeria hence there is urgent need to clear cargoes at the ports. I also want to suggest that the rail system be revamped to ease traffic congestion in the area as most of the goods would be evacuated through the rail as an alternative to road.
Reacting, the governor promised that the rail project that runs from Mile 2 to CMS would be completed before December.
“The rail project will be completed this year as part of measures to facilitate quick business services by checkmating perennial traffic congestion in the area,” the governor assured.
“Our government has carried out massive infrastructural development since inception of this administration. We have witnessed across the state massive road constructions, flyovers and other things, to address the challenge of traffic and to improve our socio-economic activities. Apapa issue will not be different; we will tackle it very soon.”
The governor also added that the alternative route to Ibafo-Mowe, Ogun State from Agic, Ishawo area of Ikorodu would soon be completed.
Also, the governor reiterated commitment to tackle unemployment through adequate support for Small and Medium Enterprises to thrive by providing them friendly environment to operate. He noted that SMEs are the largest employers of labour hence if supported they would engage many youths and artisans.
To achieve this, he said: “Through the Ministry of Wealth Creation, we have been able to provide jobs for our people. The establishment of Lagos State Employment Trust Fund is to disburse about 6.25 billion naira every year to help SME owners. That is the commitment on the part of the government. But the essence itself is to inflate the economy and inject capital for greater participation of SMEs and the youths and the artisans generally.
“We are in a meeting with the central bank to set up a micro finance bank to meet our needs on SMEs.”
Reacting on the Apapa, Tincan Island ports Ambode said that as much as he would have loved to tackle the problem, the areas are not within his ambit to exercise powers in order to bring succour to the affected people, but added that he would seek collaboration with the federal government to ameliorate the situation.
“I want to say that Lagos is the melting pot where all these issues affect and we need to look at things nationally.
“Traffic gridlock in Apapa and Tincan Island is more about federal government than us but it is about Lagosians. So there is need for collaboration. If I have 1.5 billion naira to give to the contractor I will do so because it will make life more comfortable for people at Apapa. But the road has to be fixed it is about the comfort of our people,” he stressed.
The governor maintained that the need to focus on other means of transportation such as water and rail became imperative, as a state with over 22 million people could not afford to have just one means of transportation.
Speaking at the event, Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Mrs Olayinka Oladunjoye said the occasion was worthwhile as it has been a useful public–private engagement vehicle, through which the state government and the business community interact to discuss issues that are germane to the state’s industrial growth.
“The promotion of commercial and industrial growth of the State has been the focus of this Assembly. As the engine room and hub of industrial development, Lagos State recognises that a wholesome operating environment is the key to job creation, poverty eradication and overall economic development of the State. Therefore, the State Government will continue to ensure collaboration between it and the organised private sector (OPS), not only to sustain the existing level of industrialization but also to accelerate the momentum of its development.
“The Corporate Assembly is a veritable platform that enables Government to feel the pulse of the business community. This all-important parley has so far resolved a number of issues affecting businesses in the State.”