Newly commissioned Oniru network of roads

 Oluwatoyosi Ogunrinde

 Being the country’s industry, commercial and economic nerve centre, Lagos attracts the influx of diverse people from different parts of the world. This, no doubt, is partly responsible for the State’s phenomenal population explosion. Lagos has been projected to be the largest megacity in the world by 2022.

The State’s astonishing population growth certainly exerts much pressure on its infrastructure, mostly stretching it to the very limit.  Hence, Lagos expends so much resources on infrastructure renewal that it becomes imperative for the government to creatively invent other means of funding. Eight years ago, former Governor of the State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), disclosed that a sum of N6.14 Trillion is needed to build and upgrade infrastructural facilities in the State in the next 15 years. This, no doubt, is beyond the capacity of the government alone.

 It is in an attempt to seek alternative sources of funding the State’s infrastructure needs that the current administration of Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu made Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) a key driving force of his administration’s T.H.E.M.E.S (acronyms for Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21ST Economy, Entertainment and Tourism and Governance and Security) Developmental Agenda.

PPP is a contractual relationship between the private and public sectors as a systematic collaboration geared towards ensuring communal, state or national socio-economic development that is comprehensive and self-sustaining. It is an arrangement with clear direction and defined roles and responsibilities of all the actors in the plan. PPP is a financial module designed to attract private investors to engage in infrastructural projects with short and long term benefits to the people.

In adopting this strategy, the government is not abdicating its responsibilities but essentially releasing scarce resources for other equally important projects thus creating a win-win situation for the government and the private enterprise as well. The major advantage of the involvement of the private sector in governance is the efficiency it brings to project management. The issue of wastes, delayed delivery and abandonment that is usually associated with public projects is highly minimized. This is as a result of the optimization of the returns on huge investment of the private sector.

Across the globe, many countries are also going for the PPP model in water supply. For instance, in the United States, UK, Brazil, Philippines, Haiti, China, Germany, Mexico, Australia, Morocco, Romania among others, the PPP model is in vogue. When considered that annual population growth rate in Europe is only about 0.22% compared to 3% of Sub-Saharan Africa, it is quite imperative that African states urgently seek alternative means of funding infrastructure development in the water sector.

In order to properly leverage on the PPP approach in Lagos, upon his inauguration in May, 2019, Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu pledged to partner the private sector in his bid to develop infrastructure across the State. True to his words, the Sanwo-Olu administration has partnered with the private sector in diverse ways to improve the well-being of the citizenry.

One of the dividends of the partnerships is the improvement of the road network around the Oniru-Victoria Island and Lekki axis, which was constructed by the State government in partnership with Access Bank Plc. The road network project, measuring around 1.8 kilometers, has improved traffic flow, reduced travel time and eliminated the perennial flooding challenge.

The project, which commenced in December last year, under a Public Infrastructure Improvement Partnership (PIIP) Program in conjunction with Access Bank, involved the dualisation, expansion, construction and rehabilitation of some roads, junction and turning radius. It also included the provision of new drainage system, re-routing some roads as one way and signalization. Some of the roads delivered under the project are Ligali Ayorinde Muri Okunola–Aboyade Cole, Yesufu Abiodun Oniru, and Ligali Ayorinde/Akingbolagbe/Okene amongst others.

The project, also known as Victoria Island-Lekki Traffic Circulation Project-Oniru Axis, was conceived to help manage traffic congestion to the lowest minimal, which in turn reduces air pollution from idling vehicles, and helps riders avoid the stress that comes from daily driving in highly congested areas.

The Victoria Island and Lekki axis are two very busy commercial areas in the State with huge exchange of economic activities daily. These areas easily provide employment opportunities for a large number of the people, with close to 40% of total employment opportunities within the formal sector.

While commissioning the roads on Thursday, September 24, Governor Sanwo-Olu said his government resolved to work in partnership with public-spirited corporate organisations to embark on the road improvement project in order to reduce traffic challenges being faced by residents round the axis which led to a significant reduction in productivity and growth business activities in this highly commercial location.

The key outcome from the completion of the project is traffic diffusion, which has made considerable positive impact on businesses and residents living in the area. Also, the project has led to an improvement in road connectivity, improved traffic flow, reduced travel time, decline in flooding, heightened intermodal transportation and improve in the health and socio-economic well- being of the residents.

With this partnership, the State Government and Access Bank have reinforced the importance of the PPP model at delivering public infrastructure.

In view of the successful outcome of the collaboration viz-a-viz the prompt delivery of the Oniru network of roads, Governor Sanwo-Olu further urged the private sector to partner with his government for maintenance and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure so that the government can concentrate more on the provision of new road Infrastructure, pledging to reciprocate the kind gesture in commensurate measure.

Kudos must be given to the government and Access Bank for transforming the roads and, thereby, easing the burdens of the people. It must, however, be stressed that the government and Access Bank have successfully done their bit. The project has now become a public property, owned by all the residents. Therefore, it must be adequately protected to further encourage the sponsors, other corporate organisations and the government to do more.

Ogunrinde is of the Features Unit, Lagos State Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.    



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