Fashola Commissions 1,255 Modern Taxis, Tells Investors, Lagos Is Working
May 26, 2009 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Tuesday commissioned the second phase of the State’s Modern Taxi Scheme with a call on both local and international investors to come to Lagos, ”because Lagos is working”.
At the colourful ceremony attended by a cross section of private sector stakeholders and taxi cab operators in the State at the Lagos House Car Park in Alausa, 1,255 air-conditioned taxis and cabs were launched for operation on Lagos roads.
In a keynote address before the official launch of the taxis, Governor Fashola noted that the major investments that has been made by private sector partners of his administration is a signature of confidence in the economy of the State adding that it also shows that capital is finding a new home with safe returns in the State.
”For undecided investors, local and international, I urge you to find the courage to dare, the courage to invest. Fortune beckons you because Lagos is working”, the Governor said.
According to the obviously elated Governor Fashola, “Already, new estates are being built; new hotels are already springing up in Lagos. This means more jobs for our people, it means more food on the table, it means hope exists and it means that democracy has a meaning in our lives”.
Describing the launch of the taxi scheme as a further vote of confidence in the Transportation sector of the State’s economy, Governor Fashola declared, “The best of the opportunities that exist in the transport sector of Lagos State is yet to come. What is happening is a predictable response to an investment we have made in infrastructure renewal in Lagos”.
“As we build more roads, the investor has the confidence to buy new cars because I know nobody will invest in new cars on bad roads. It confirms that the Private Sector is the engine of growth and that government policies and government actions are the fuel necessary to fire this engine of growth”, the Governor said.
The Governor commended the investors and financiers of the scheme saying, “We see ourselves, as a government, like a large corporation ready to compete with large private corporations. The difference is that we sell different goods. We sell hope, we sell a new quality of life, we offer education, we offer security, we offer transportation and healthcare, we clear refuse, respond to fire, but we cannot declare profit”.
Noting that the launch of the scheme is another positive result of his administration’s strategic partnership with the Private Sector, Governor Fashola said, “We are not here to launch anything. We are here to communicate success and to show the way forward; we are here to open a new vista and new sectors for the Lagos Economy”, adding that the success of the partnership is already evident in many areas of the economy such as waste management, security management and road transportation among other sectors.
He expressed joy that the partnership has also allowed the Taxi Drivers Association, C&I Motors, and other private sector companies to join the Lagos Taxi Cab business with funds being provided by other support groups particularly the Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) and the Lagos Micro-Finance Scheme, adding that it has, by immediate consequence, provided 1, 255 jobs.
The Governor thanked the Private Sector partners of his administration for their continued confidence in the State’s economy, saying though Government does not declare any profit by the reason of the partnership, as the Private Partners make profit, the Stock Market will be better for it and shareholders will get huge dividends.
He urged beneficiaries of the Scheme to continue to remain law abiding, civil and friendly operators of the taxis they operate pointing out that the automobile is not a toy and has to be properly managed always so that it does not become a danger to life.
“I urge you to be particularly conscious now of the importance of this opportunity; that it is an opportunity that is present here at home. Many Nigerians are driving taxis in the streets of London in the depth of winter trying to find a living. That living has been provided here at home where you are close to family, where you are close to friends. I implore you to seize it with both hands. It is a service for which you will certainly be rewarded”, the Governor said.
In his remarks earlier, the Executive Director, Commercial Banking of Union Bank Nigeria PLC, one of the major financiers of the scheme, Mr. Kenneth Adeyemi, said the scheme was a joint initiative of the bank, the Lagos State Government and the Lagos State Taxi Cab Operators’ Association.
Adeyemi, who said the launch would be beneficial in providing jobs, reducing travel time across the State, boosting business transactions in the State and increasing the tax revenue of the State among other benefits, thanked the State Government for creating the investment opportunity and pledged the continued support of his organization to the State Government.
Also in her remarks, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. (Mrs.) Joke Orelope-Adefulire , said the State Government, in partnership with some Micro-Finance Banks gave out loans of over a billion Naira last year to operators of small scale businesses disclosing that this year N2 billion would be disbursed to the same category of people.
Chairman of the Lagos State Taxis/Cabs Operators Association who spoke on behalf of the operators thanked the Governor for the opportunity given to them saying the scheme, aside from providing employment to the taxi drivers, would give opportunity for investment and make economic activities to thrive and pledged that the operators would abide by the rules and regulations of the State while also paying their taxes.
Also the National President of the Taxi Drivers Association, Alhaji Lateef Oseni, in his remark, commended the Governor on the various programmes with which he has touched the life of Lagosians and the role he is playing in the emerging Mega-City saying that the launch of the modern taxis was a response to his plea to the Governor to assist the members of his Association in the State to invest in the Scheme.
Alhaji Oseni, who spoke in Yoruba, prayed for long life and a successful tenure for Governor Fashola and urged the Federal Government to emulate the Lagos State Government in providing life line for taxi/cab operators in the country.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Commissioner for Transportation, Professor Bamidele Badejo, said the scheme was a result of an ambitious programme of policy reforms and investment embarked upon by the immediate past administration in the State with a view to creating a modern efficient and integrated transport system for metropolitan Lagos.
Congratulating the operators for keying into the vision of the State Government to bequeath a worthy legacy in public transportation to Lagosians, Professor Badejo urged them to abide by the rules and regulations guiding the taxi/cab and car hire services in the State pledging that the State Government will continue to provide the enabling environment for business to thrive in the State.