The Lagos State Government, Friday, blamed the deplorable state of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road on politics.
The State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, stated this at an interactive session with media executives and editors late Friday, in Lagos.
The airport is the busiest in Nigeria accounting for more than half of her foreign flights. The road leading to it is, however, in a very bad state. Both the road and the airport belong to the Federal Government.
Mr. Fashola blamed the state government’s failure to either rehabilitate or reconstruct the road on politics. He noted that the issue had been politicised, adding that “all sorts of things are going on.”
The governor regretted his decision not to modernise the 4.2 km road when the idea first struck him, recalling that his plan was to expand the road, provide service lanes and introduce tolls for motorists who opted to use the fast lanes.
Mr. Fashola said that his administration worked on more than 190 roads in the state in 2012, while another 100 roads would receive the desired attention this year.
According to him, Lagosians want him to concentrate more on developing the state’s roads to ease traffic flow.
He said that in all that his administration had done to rehabilitate and reconstruct roads in the state, including the expansion of the Lagos/Badagry Expressway, it had not confiscated any single approved building.
He challenged any landlord, who had lost his property to the state government as a result of the ongoing road construction, to come forward with the necessary evidence to back up such a claim, adding that rather, the state had paid compensation.
“Bring the proof that we unlawfully took your property,’’ Fashola said, stressing, however, that the owners of illegal buildings had no legal rights.
He recalled that in the Ejigbo axis, the government even constructed two bridges, instead of one, to avoid demolishing many buildings that were most probably illegal.
Tejuoso complaints baseless
On the newly rebuilt Tejuoso Market in Surulere, the governor dismissed complaints that the owners of the burnt stalls could not afford them under the new dispensation, noting that many of them had already done so.
He said that many of the traders had been able to pay for the stalls through installments, adding that the state government was even the one holding them back.
The governor urged the development of the mortgage system in the country, adding that there was the need for Nigerians to imbibe the habit of acquiring facilities, including housing, through payment in installments.
On the recurring complaints about the fate of Maroko residents, a slum settlement in Lagos that was sacked by the military administration of Raji Rasaki in July, 1990, Mr. Fashola said the story was “more fiction now than fact.”
Mr. Fashola, who recalled that his father was one of those affected, said that some of those affected had been resettled in Ikota area of Lagos, but added, nonetheless, that the issue of restitution and resettlement was debatable.
According to him, the saga of Maroko, which now hosts some modern facilities, should be considered
a “slum regeneration project’’.
Media exemption on okada
The governor also spoke on the possibility of waiving the restriction placed on motorcycles below 200 cc to facilitate the distribution of newspapers by media houses in the state.
Mr. Fashola said it was only the state legislature that had the power to do such a thing since it was responsible for the restriction on commercial motorcyclists from operating on certain roads in the metropolis, and the raise in the engine capacity.
However, he described the resort to the use of motorcycles for public transportation as the sign of a failed economy, adding that no serious economy considered riding a commercial motorcycle to earn a living a job.
The governor debunked rumours making the rounds that his wife was involved in the importation of the 200cc motorcycles.
He also spoke on the construction of a 27-km intra-city rail line from Okokomaiko to the Marina, saying it was possible for a train to run from Mile 2 to the National Theatre in the foreseeable future, with onward transportation by bus.
Mr. Fashola dismissed stories making the rounds that he had placed a gag on his commissioners not to speak to the press , saying that all the government did was to ensure that the State Ministry of Information was allowed to play its role as the government’s mouthpiece.
The governor added, however, that this did not deter the other ministries from briefing the press on their activities when it was time to do so.
He was assisted at the briefing by a number of commissioners, including the Commissioner for Environment, Tunji Bello; Commissioner for Works, Obafemi Hamzat; and the Commissioner for Information, Aderemi Ibirogba.