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Fashola Vows To Ensure Security Of All Lagos Residents
As LASG hands over 250 yellow mega-city cabs to Drivers' Association

Jan 6, 2011 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Thursday pledged that his administration would continue to ensure the safety of residents of the State just as he handed over 250 new air-conditioned Mega-city Cabs to beneficiaries of the State's Mega-city Taxi-Cab Scheme.

The 250 cars handed over at the open grounds of the Lagos House, Ikeja, represent the second phase of the State Government's Yellow Mega-City Taxi Scheme coordinated by the State's Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation. The first phase of 230 units of brand new vehicles was launched in 2009 when LASMI disbursed the sum of N50 million as equity contribution to the Lagos State Chapter of the Taxi Drivers and Owners Association and as equity contribution to guarantee a loan of N500 million to acquire the cars for use as taxi cabs by members of the Association within Lagos State.

In his keynote address delivered on his behalf by the Deputy Governor, Princess Adebisi Sarah Sosan, the Governor said the commissioning of projects in the State as well as rehabilitation of rain-damaged roads and other projects have been made possible because of the security and safety that prevails in the State.

Describing transportation as a sector that is critical to the sustenance of the socio-economic development of any society, Governor Fashola declared, "Besides, the road transportation, we are making strides in the rail and water transportation. Our overall goal is to make the movement of commuters in Lagos State easier and more comfortable".

"Today, our administration, through the Lagos State Micro-finance Institution (LASMI), is commissioning and handing over another set of 250 brand new taxi cabs to the Lagos State Taxi Drivers and Cab Operators Association (LSTDCOA)", Governor Fashola said adding that the vehicles are being handed over as owner/driver scheme that is meant to empower members who are lucky to benefit.

The Governor congratulated the 250 lucky beneficiaries of the scheme saying, "From today, you will be delivering to yourselves and not to anybody again. You are now The-Owner".

According to him, "Besides alleviating poverty through this scheme, we are equally changing the face of taxi cabs available on Lagos roads through the injection of fully air-conditioned brand new taxi cabs on Lagos roads. It is part of our Government's plan to phase out all rickety taxi cabs from Lagos roads in line with our plan to transform Lagos to a mega-city".

He explained that the initiative was financed through LASMI on one hand and First Bank Plc on the other hand adding that of the 250 cabs being commissioned, the Government, through LASMI, fully financed 100 cabs while First Bank Plc financed the remaining 150 units with Government paying additional 10 percent equity on the 150 cabs for the beneficiaries.

Governor Fashola further explained that for those wishing to register for the scheme, all they need do is to go through the Lagos State Taxi Drivers and Cab Operators Association (LSTDCOA) with just a deposit of N250, 000 to brand the taxi cab and pay for comprehensive insurance cover adding that the repayment conditions have been made easy.

Congratulating the beneficiaries, Governor Fashola advised them to be vigilant and observant of the people they pick, especially from the entry points of the State adding, "In most developed and advanced countries of the world, their taxi system is part of their security system".

In his remarks, the Commissioner for Transportation, Professor Bamidele Badejo, said the vision of the present administration is to bequeath a vibrant, safe, attractive and viable transportation system that would act as catalyst to the socio-economic transformation of the State.

Professor Badejo declared, "Lagos State, being the most populous State and the hub of the Nigerian economy has enormous transportation challenges necessitating the development of various strategies, policies and programmes to address the realities and transportation challenges of the State".

"These policies and programmes include the Modern Taxi Scheme whose objectives are to develop a taxi operation of international status to be operated by private/corporate organizations, associations, cooperatives and allied unions while providing a more secure taxi operation that will enhance the confidence of the citizenry and users and most importantly provide more jobs in the transportation sector in a more formal manner and environmental friendly atmosphere", the Commissioner said.

President of LSTDCOA, Alhaji Lateef Oseni, in his remarks, pledged that his association would continue to fulfill its obligations to Government as regards the scheme adding that the vehicles would be deployed to serve the purpose for which they were purchased.

"Having seen the positive steps of this administration as responsible and responsive corporate citizens, we promise to reciprocate the gesture. We shall not let this administration down", the LSTDCOA President pledged.

Earlier in her welcome address, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Honourable (Mrs.) Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, said the scheme was one of the many products of the poverty alleviation strategies of the present administration.

Describing poverty as the greatest threat to human existence, the Commissioner declared, "Based on this consideration, we set out to execute policies that are capable of alleviating poverty and thereby reducing to the barest minimum all its debilitating effects such as crimes and social violence, especially domestic violence".

Recalling the launch of LASMI in 2008, the Commissioner said the sum of N1,254,000,000.00 has been disbursed so far to over 251, 000 beneficiaries adding that while N895 million of the amount was disbursed as Micro loans, N359 million was committed to the State's Modern Taxi Project.

Advising the beneficiaries to keep to the terms of the agreement in the Scheme, the Commissioner thanked Governor Babatunde Fashola "for his unwavering passion and commitment to poverty alleviation programmes in the State and enjoined the beneficiaries to "comply with road traffic regulations, drive safely and take good care of their new assets, especially as these are their means of livelihood".

Also present at the occasion were the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, the Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture, Mr. Tunde Balogun, members of the LSTDCOA in their hundreds and representatives of the sponsoring bank, First Bank Plc, as well as other top Government functionaries.

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