Calls for sensible balance in policies in order not to endanger the economy
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Tuesday advocated infrastructural renewal in the country as the quickest means to grow the nation’s economy pointing out that by so doing the quality of life of the people would also be greatly improved.
Governor Fashola, who spoke while inspecting the on-going redevelopment work at Eric Moore Schools, Surulere, also called for a sensible balance in policies aimed at protecting the local economy in order that such policies do not endanger the economy that they are made to protect.
Fielding questions from Government House Correspondents after inspecting on-going comprehensive redevelopment of Eric Moore Schools, Governor Fashola said in a nation where there is manifest deficit of infrastructure, the quickest way to turn around the economy was to address the deficit and in the process improve the lives of the people.
Governor Fashola, who listed such infrastructures as roads, schools and so many other public utilities, declared, “It does not require a rocket science to really understand that one of the quickest ways in which you can turn around the economy is first to address that deficit of infrastructure and improve the quality of life, be that through the provision of educational facilities, health facilities, transport facilities and all of that and in doing that also, put money in peoples’ pockets”.
On the Eric Moore Schools project, the Governor said, “We are not doing anything that has not been done before. But it is to sit down and plan, those are the challenges. When you have close to 2, 000 projects simultaneously, you now have the responsibility for monitoring and for financing”.
“The process of budgeting and planning for this is a very rigorous and hard work. You need to see almost everything in your horizon every 12 months over a period of three years planning and to ensure that what you plan for three years does not become a four or five year programme and run out of control”, the Governor said.
Governor Fashola, who disclosed that the contractors are currently complaining of lack of the brand of cement being used for the project, noted that the shortfall was as a result of the policy enunciated by the Federal Government to protect the local cement production.
He, however, advised that while such policies to protect the local economy were expedient, there was need to enunciate short, medium and long term plans to keep such policy consistencies in place in order to ensure that they do not endanger the economy they are put in place to protect.
“If we shut down this site, for example, we have over 1, 000 people who will lose their jobs. So it is for us to continue to find a sensible balance that helps us to grow and protect the local economy but at the same time we do not do it in a manner that endangers what we want to protect”, the Governor said.
Describing the Eric Moore Schools as “an old school with a lot of history and tradition”, the Governor declared, “What we have come to do here is to bridge the maintenance gap and the demand gap that has grown over the years. The population in the school has outstripped the facilities. Some of the facilities have suffered the problem of lack of maintenance and I think, on advice, it is better to rebuild and put a maintenance plan in place to ensure that they last longer”.
The Eric Moore Schools project is a phased reconstruction of the old education facilities of the site both in order to upgrade the infrastructure and accommodate the students whose population has outstripped the available facilities over the years.
Speaking earlier while briefing the Governor on the scope of the project, the Project Director of the Schools Special Rehabilitation Committee, Engineer Gbenga Abudiore, told the Governor that it would comprise of four senior schools and four junior schools, explaining that because of paucity of funds, the project has been broken down into segments, with what is being embarked upon constituting the Phase One A, which comprises three blocks of 18 classrooms each in three segments making nine blocks.
“Alongside it, we have the eatery which will take care of the cafeteria for the schools and beyond that, all the blocks are 18 classrooms and at completion the intention is to do it in phases so that we can now relocate the schools there. Something pertinent is that we have the schools as a total school”, the Project Director said.
He said a major stadium has been planned for games facility that would take care of the whole area as well as a multipurpose hall that would take care of the needs of the area, reiterating that while the planning was being done, there was a staff quarters on ground which was recognized and incorporated into the general plan.
“We also incorporated a security fence work that will take care of the security of the place. We have plans for roads networks that will take care of movement. We also have the issue of sewage plant that will take care of the waste water and other wastes. Most of the schools have been cut into shape and have dual fence that will take care of fencing off the schools. Experience has shown that there is always incursion of seniors into junior schools and by so doing they bully them”, Engineer Abudiore explained.
Also giving an insight into what steps has been taken to tackle the problem of flooding in the area, the Consultant, Architect Titus Ajumobi, said because parts of the site used to be swamp it has necessitated sand filling of the area in order to raise the ground and make flood water to flow into the surrounding drainages in the neighbourhood whenever it rains.
He explained that what has been embarked upon is the filling of the site so that water can drain to the perimeter drains which will ultimately be carried to the external drain, stating that the step has been exhaustively discussed with both the Ministries of the Environment and Works.
Engineer Abudiore said the contractors have signed up and accepted the concept because it has been linked up with the municipal drainage system, and assured the Governor that the drainage problems of Animashaun, Eric Moore and Alaka would also be harmonized.
Prominent among those who accompanied the Governor on the Inspection tour were members of the State Executive Council including Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, his Education counterpart, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, Special Adviser on Housing, Mr. Jimoh Ajao and top officials of Moreno Marinas, the contracting firm.

APRIL 03, 2012