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Fashola Launches Two Security Monitoring Helicopters, Reaffirms Commitment To Overwhelm Criminals

Dec 7, 2009 - Lagos State Governor Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Monday launched two Bell 412 ER Helicopters for the aerial security monitoring of the State, reaffirming the administration’s commitment to outspend, outrun and overwhelm the competition that criminals present.

Governor Fashola who spoke at the launch of the helicopters which took place at the open grounds of the Lagos House, Ikeja, added that: “We want to be the first to arrive when emergencies occur with all the capacity to deal with them and save lives”.

He explained that the choice of the Bell 412 EP was informed by its multi-faceted platform which allows it to be utilized in several functions such as paramilitary, civil and utility capacities.

Governor Fashola added that the state Government made the investment in the machines to give it the capacity to monitor traffic, pursue criminals, fight fire and evacuate people promptly when accidents happen.

Said he: “These particular helicopters are specially and uniquely configured to be used in fire fighting, emergency services, search and rescue, air ambulance, and airborne surveillance roles”.

“These two helicopters exceed the standard Bell 412 prototypes. At our request they have been fitted with 31 extra options to give them versatility of multi-faceted use for which we require them”.

“Each of the helicopters has the latest Airborne systems, as well as, interoperable communications means, including search lights and radios which will allow easy communication both with the police and other agencies on the ground. Other features such as long range, rupture-resistant auxiliary fuel tanks, jettison able crew doors, sturdy construction, dual redundant electrical and many more would provide a sure complement to vehicles on the ground to curb and reduce crimes”, the Governor added.

Governor Fashola reaffirmed that the Bell 412 is a tried and tested helicopter currently being used by several agencies all over the world including the Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia, Air Ambulance Company of Victoria (Australia), the Queensland Department of Community Safety, the Police of Czechs, the Finish Border Guard, Los Angeles County Fire Department, New York City Police Department, Chicago Fire Department and the Government of Bahrain that recently purchased six Bell Helicopters among others.

He noted that the investments of the state in security have been beneficial with recording of a 79.9 percent reduction in violent crimes, just as it is recording successes in apprehending and bringing criminals to justice.

“A night economy is growing in support of a vibrant day time economy that is providing jobs and reducing desperate conditions that lead to criminal activities in the society”, Governor Fashola said.

The Governor said in spite of the achievements the Government is not resting on its oars: “We will never be satisfied. We know that there is no crime free society, but we understand that crime and crime patterns are very fluid and we are resolved to stay ahead of the competition, he said”.

He added that in spite of its achievements, the State Government remains committed to increased investments such as the helicopters which will help increase capacity, encourage best practices and inspire security agencies with the most efficient tools of their trade.

The Lagos State helmsman said despite the fact security is a most expensive venture, it is the Government’s primary responsibility, adding that the cost of insecurity manifests itself in many forms like loss of lives, widowed women, orphaned children, loss of limbs, disabled men and women and a devastation of society’s otherwise productive human resource.

“Wherever there is insecurity, poverty will certainly thrive as there will inevitably be human resource and financial capital flights. We reject the notion that this will ever happen in our State”, Governor Fashola emphasized.

Governor Fashola said in recognition of the Constitutional provision that security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government, the State set up a Security Trust Fund by a law of the Lagos State House of Assembly.

He added: “That is why we have procured emergency response numbers 767 and 112; this is why we have increased our fleet of ambulances; this is why we have provided water tankers to accompany fire engines; this is why we have embarked on a Statewide training programme to invest as many citizens with life saving skills in emergencies under our Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation Programme that has graduated over 500 (five hundred) people who now live in our State as first responders in cases of emergency. This is why we are providing street lights at night in spite of the challenges of doing so”.

He also applauded the Local Governments in the State for appreciating the importance of the security responsibility by contributing 114 vehicles to support Police patrol in the State.

The Governor said with every sense of responsibility and modesty, the present administration is indeed very proud to lead the way again through this launch as the first State to provide the kind of unique social service in this country.

He thanked all Lagosians, especially, friends and partners for their support in helping to provide the kind of governance that touches every aspect of the people’s lives, and in the project of building the model mega city.

He said that the operation and management of the helicopters will still be within the purview of the State Public Private Partnership (PPP) in collaboration with Caverton Helicopters to ensure that operation costs are met and that all safety and regulatory issues as stipulated by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority are complied with.

In his words: “We would also continue to work and encourage more private participation in governance through the PPP initiative to support us in our aspiration to provide quality and sustainable infrastructure befitting a global megacity”.

He also appealed to all residents to continue to faithfully discharge their own side of the social contract so that Government can continue to give the service that it has been elected to render.

Earlier in his address, Lagos Police Commissioner, Mr Marvel Akpoyibo said the Lagos Police Command with the support of the Governor has battled crime to an almost zero level.

He said with the latest deployment, the State is approaching aerial patrol which will enhance effectiveness of foot and creek patrols by security agencies.

Mr Akpoyibo who said he and his men are overfilled with joy, added that it is clear signal that there would be no more hiding place for criminals anymore in Lagos.

In his technical brief on the helicopters, the Technical Director of Caverton Helicopters, Mr Dave Vickers said the helicopters are equipped with equipments like weather radar, traffic alert system, GPS Navigation system, satellite phone, high intensity light and satellite space tracking systems which allows it to monitor real time positions.

He added that in case of medical services it has three stretchers and two medical attendants and also offers support for intensive medical services.

Mr Vickers said the helicopters represent a milestone and that Caverton is the first indigenous operator to be able to offer its services to the Government and people of Lagos State.

Fielding questions from newsmen after the launch, Governor Fashola said the primary responsibility of every responsible government is to save life and property of its citizenry adding that the purchase of the two helicopters is part of Government’s resolve to be ready at all times to respond to this need.

The Governor who recalled the fire incident that resulted to the death of many workers at the NITEL Building (then NET) in 1983 said as a Governor, he never wants a situation he would be helpless whenever the need arises to save life or to respond to emergencies or to crime.

“I know that it is impossible with 18 million people not to have accidents. We can’t avoid it. No nation has ever succeeded whether in car accidents, domestic accidents, fire incidents or plant explosions. Those are the daily challenges that we face and if we are to act as a responsible government, we must provide the tools for the men and women who we have sent to go and protect and save our lives”, the Governor said, adding, “That is the fundamental objective of our being in government; that we will never want to be helpless whenever our citizens are in need”.

On whether his administration has plans to purchase more helicopters, Governor Fashola, who said it is not just helicopters, added, “When you look at the cities and countries we are being compared with, that you benchmark us with, that you expect us to compete with; if you look at the New York Police Department, for instance, all of the men and materials in its possession that is what African governments, even at the national level, can never put together”.

Recalling the incident when a plane crashed into the Hudson River in the United States and the equipment deployed to rescue life from the New York Police, the Governor declared, “So this is an on-going thing. It is a commitment to continue to increase capacity of men and women who we asked to go and do a job of protecting our lives”.

Governor Fashola later cut the tape to formally launch the helicopters before some members of the State Security Council took a demonstration flight on the helicopters to the admiration of guests present at the ceremony.

The occasion was attended by Deputy Governor, Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan, members of the State Executive Council, Local Government Council and Development Areas Chairmen, Chairman of the State Security Trust Fund, Chief Remi Makanjuola, members of the Fund, Secretary, Mr Fola Arthur Worrey and security officers from all the formations in the State.


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