By Funmi Falobi, Senior Reporter, Lagos
Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola has reiterated the commitment of his administration in investing the funds it is borrowing in assets that would determine the quality of life the people.
Fashola spoke with journalists during on-going state-wide inspection of projects to the Badagry axis, along with members of his cabinet.
He visited several places including the on-going construction of the combined High Court/Magistrate Courts, the on-going Market Road Phase II, development of tourism sites including Vlekete Slave Market at the Posukoh Quarters, the reclamation of the Marina Shoreline and the first District Officers’ Office which is being rehabilitated.
“The first Bond has been repaid. The other that we took is due for repayment. The amount in the consolidated debt service account was about N62 billion as at December last year and the liability that we have is N50billion. And it is not due until next year, by which time the amount in the debt service account will grow. The Debt service account shows clearly that we can pay back,” the governor explained.
Giving an insight into the components that made up the state’s budget, Fashola explained that the demands which the state government got before its budget from various communities, roads, schools amounted to about N700 Billion but because the administration knew that it could not generate N700Billion, it had to scale the budget down to around N497 Billion which was over and above what it could reasonably foresee.
“The only reason why we are working hard is how to bridge that deficit in a sustainable way, raise the money, collect the taxes from those who are hiding, who don’t want to contribute and also prepare for the generation that is coming behind”, he added.
Responding to a question on whether courier companies needed to obtain fresh clearance before plying the roads with 200cc motorcycles, the Governor said no such clearance is needed.
He said: “First of all, when you have a 200cc motor cycle as your own form of transport or movement, not public transportation, you can ride on any road in Lagos. You don’t need any permission; you don’t need any exemption. Even if you are running courier business, once you have a 200cc, just go to the motor registry, you license it, get your number plate, just as you will license any other vehicle. That is all you need, at least, from Lagos State Government.
“I don’t know about the regulation for courier business because it’s not my responsibility, but as far as plying my road, once you meet that, you don’t need any exemption or permit from anybody whether in the Ministry of Transportation. I’ve told the Commissioner for Transportation that he must make further clarification on that, but the answer is that no exemption is needed once you have a 200cc motorcycle”.
He said the on-going Vlekete Slave Market as other tourism development projects of the government in Badagry is all about tourism since it represents one of the historical sites that Nigerians pay money to go and visit in other parts of the world.
He explained that the state is building all of the road networks around the historical sites as part of the development of tourism projects in Badagry like the shoreline for the point of no return area aimed at providing the infrastructure that brings people to the place in a comfortable way and takes them back comfortably.
Fashola lamented the slow pace of work on the Magistrate and High Court complex but added that the contractor had promised to finish the job by April.
Other places inspected by the governor and his team were the 48-Bedroom Hotel at the Lagos State V.I.P Chalets and the proposed site for Oba’s Palace in Badagry.