By Meletus EZE
The Lekki Estate Residents and Stakeholders Association (LERSA) have called on the Federal Government to grant Lagos State a special city status and allocate one per cent of the nation’s budget to its development.
The President of LERSA, Olorogun James Emadoye, told the News Agency of Nigeria that this had become necessary given the fact that the state is a commercial hub and a mega-city.
Emadoye said that Lagos State had the potential to contribute more to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but the metropolis’ potential was being curtailed by mobility issues.
“In the past ten years, population explosion has affected Lagos more than any other part of the state. It now takes an average of three to four hours (especially on a weekday morning) to access Lagos Island from some parts of Lekki and about the same time on the return trip.
“Lagos, being the commercial hub of Nigeria is no doubt a mega city. It is wholly unfair the way Lagos has been treated since the seat of government relocated to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“The Federal Government of Nigeria must declare Lagos a special city with at least one per cent direct allocation of the nation’s budget to the development of the city.
“Such declaration will see Lagos contributing more to the nation’s GDP and the end will be a win-win position for Nigeria,’’ the LERSA president said.
TBI Africa said that the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the LERSA is an umbrella body of all the estates, businesses and dwellers in the area, now referred to as Lekki.
The Lekki suburbs start from the 1004 flats to Epe and the Lekki Free Trade Zone environs. It also includes the Dangote Refinery (which is under construction), the New Lagos Airport, several residential estates in the region.
Emadoye stressed that the mobility challenges of the city were solvable, urging the Federal and State Governments to combine efforts to introduce four rail lines into the city.
“One rail line should run from Epe to Marina, another from Ikorodu to Marina, Ota to Marina and the fourth, Badagry to Marina.
“There should also be connecting links to these major lines and the transportation problems of Lagos would be virtually solved,’’ he said.
Emadoye added that the Lekki region could also benefit hugely from the development of water transportation.
“It takes about 20 minutes from Badore to Marina by sea and the same time from Ogombo Town to Marina. The development of these alternate means of mobility will truly make Lagos a mega city.’’
He identified the advantages of introducing an effective rail system to include: huge savings on fuel, address subsidy challenges and an elongation of life of the few available roads as virtually all heavy loads move from road to rail for mobility, if implemented.
The LERSA president said that additionally, the ripple effect of reduced stress from transportation would increase the life expectancy of the average Lagos resident from the current level to maybe 60 years.
He urged that Lagos State and other such major cities be allowed to keep their Value-Added Tax (VAT) collection as a development fund, should challenges be encountered with funding from the consolidated funds.
Addressing the recent traffic situation between the toll gate at Eleganza and Abraham Adesanya for Lekki residents specifically, Emadoye said LERSA was holding several meetings with the Lekki Conservation Centre (LCC) on the effective management of traffic on the road.
According to him, several requests, including the development of the coastal roads, are being made, adding that such roads could be developed on a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) basis and tolled.
“Currently, the road has not benefited from the BRT system of the state and the other major challenge is that Lekki is a one road only city. One must come into the area by one road and leave by the same road, there are no alternatives.
“The absence of alternative roads is responsible for the resultant traffic on the road.
“However, with the coastal road tolled, the existing road bequeathed to us since the 1980s can then be freed from tolling.
“The incoming governor actually promised to develop the coastal road, and whilst we congratulate him sincerely on his victory at the poll, we pray God to grant him the wisdom, strength and resources to fulfil most of his electoral promises,’’ the LERSA president said.
He expressed the association’s readiness to partner with the state in the provision of a general hospital and the establishment of more primary and secondary schools in the region.
“We intend to support the government in all ways possible to succeed. We shall make freely available LERSA’s quality human capital to the government.
“We also promise to respond to the state whenever we are called upon. LERSA shall remain a solid support to the government,’’ Emadoye said.