WorldStage Newsonline-- Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has laid the blame for the environmental degradation of parts of the State on the doorsteps of the Federal Government, its agencies and oil companies saying the sad development in total disregard for the well-being of the people of Lagos.
Fielding questions from newsmen after the inspection of the State Government’s Obalende Transformation project and the regeneration work in the Apapa Axis, Governor Fashola expressed dismay at the level of environmental degradation at the Marine Beach and Ijora Causeway as a result of the activities of the petrol tankers and oil companies adding that they are operating without conscience.
“Everybody is talking about degradation. They should come here and see degradation from the activities of the Federal Government and its agencies and the oil companies. They are destroying our land in the name of exploration and transportation of petroleum products”, the Governor said.
Governor Fashola was particularly dismayed by the conversion of a park given to a Peoples’ Democratic Party chieftain for development which he (the Chieftain) turned into a toll paying garage for trailers and oil tankers which paid N2, 000 per entry everyday to the Chieftain for two years before the Government reclaimed it as well as the abandonment of a rail line built by the British to take goods out of the Apapa Port.
“Now, when you create human activity, be sure of degradation. The refuse is still here. We have lost a road. The rail line there was built by the British to take goods out of the Port and from there it passes to Ebute-Metta Junction beside Nigerian Breweries on its way out of Lagos. Now they abandoned it and they prefer trailers. What kind of people are they?”, the Governor asked.
Governor Fashola, who also drew attention of newsmen to the destruction of the bridge support as well as the exposition of its metal reinforcement declared, “Now those structures we cannot even afford to replace them today. They were put there about 1975- 1976; 34 to 35 years ago. In a normal economy, we shoul be replacing it”.
Noting that the place was lately a beehive of human activities by illegal squatters and operators, Governor Fashola declared, “But we are reclaiming it and in the next few months, the place will be different. So, the urban regeneration is going on. We have done Oshodi and life is gradually returning to normal there”.
The Governor, who said the Federal Government does not compensate Lagos for all the damages it does to infrastructure in the State, declared, “All the money they make from the Ports, we get nothing. Now, I would expect a Federal Government with conscience to say ‘since we are running our tankers through your roads, this is what you get every year to repair the roads’. Instead, they are carving out our land”.
“But we have started reclamation of our territory with or without them. There Ministers were here and we agreed on certain things. I hope they will come through”, the Governor said adding that regenerating the blighted areas would cost about N11 billion.
Governor Fashola said he plans to send a representation to the Federal Government “to come and see the damage they have done to our land, to our assets and to our people in the name of operating oil transportation”.
“All that oil is going underground and it will pollute the underground water. From this, ultimately, the residents will extract water for use and tomorrow we will be talking of cancer and other related diseases”, the Governor said, adding, “The people must understand this and this must stop”.
He noted that before the reclamation of Oshodi, people living in the area and its neighbourhood were planning to move out of Oshodi as well as the GRA, Ikeja and its environs adding, “We will transform this place, I am confident that we will”.
Governor Fashola reiterated that people must go back to law and order in other to reorder the society pointing out that a return to law and order would enable the people solve all the potential but small crimes which, if left unsolved would blossom into bigger crimes in the future.
“We are at the period of very high commitment to law and order. And you must know that some people do not know how to live in a city. Walking through that park, I was walking through human faeces right in the centre of the city. Some people just come from their villages and come and defecate in the open. You see them spread clothings on the bridges the way they do in the village”, the Governor pointed out.
Saying his administration has nothing against those coming to the State, the Governor, however, insisted, “But once you come here, you must adapt. You cannot defecate or urinate in the open as you do in the village. We won’t accept that here”.
“This State could be a model for change in urban regeneration. People cannot live in the city the way they live in the villages. We will enforce law and order, but advocacy and appeal such as this will be used for now”, Governor Fashola said, adding, however, that very soon anyone seen urinating or defecating in the open would be arrested.
Other areas visited were Creek Road where the Governor was shown an abandoned warehouse taken over by commercial motorcycle operators, Wharf Road which has been taken over by trailers and an abandoned trailer park in Apapa as well as the Port Novo Creek where the Federal Government plans to build a bridge for trailers. The Governor, who was greatly disturbed by the sand dredging in the area, said he would make a representation to the Federal Government to draw attention to the potential ecological disaster posed by such ill-advised engineering work.
Also accompanying the Governor on the tour were the Chief of Staff, Mr. Lanre Babalola, Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, his Physical Planning and Urban Development counterpart, Town Planner Olutoyin Ayinde, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaiye, Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Femi Hamzat and his Transportation counterpart, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, the Permanent Secretary in the Office of Drainage Services in the Ministry of Environment, Engineer Muyideen Akinsanya and his counterpart in the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mrs. Olutoyin Ayayi, among other members of the State Executive Council and other top government functionaries.