Entertain No Needless Fear About Repairs Of Third Mainland Bridge - Fashola
…Explains essence of Immunity Clause in the Constitution
Jun 25, 2012 - Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Monday urged residents of the State not to entertain any needless fear about the impending repair works on the Third Mainland Bridge, saying it is all about proper management of the situation.
The Governor who spoke in an interview with State House Correspondents at Lagos House, Ikeja added that it is a process which has taken place before and when it took place the people went through it and it was managed successfully even though there were some traffic.
Said he: "Let us remember that we have done this before. Two years ago four joints were fixed and I think we managed the traffic by communicating with our people. So, contrary to what has been reported, it is not a total closure but a partial closure".
"But let us contextualize it, we are better off today than we were when did it, at that time we diverted traffic mainly to Funsho Williams, Western Avenue, Ikorodu Road and also Murtala Mohammed Way and through Carter Bridge into Lagos Island and out. Remember that at the time this happened we were constructing those two roads. Now they have been finished".
"So in terms of roads infrastructure, we are better off now than when we first undertook the repairs and managed it successfully, so it should be less painful. We have also agreed with the Federal Ministry of Works and chosen this period so that we will utilize the time the students are on vacation".
He reiterated that the repair works will start hopefully on July 1st but that much of the work will deepen during the period when the school pupils are expected to be on holidays and that the traffic impact is expected to reduce.
He added that the work will continue till after the school children resume but that government is targeting "that before the end of year rush and traffic starts mounting by October to November, we would have finished so that people will have a pleasurable and comfortable drive on that bridge in and out of Lagos".
Governor Fashola said the road will also save the residents the wear and tear on their suspension and shock absorber, adding that it is in their own interest for it to be repaired and that they should not panic.
Noting that the State now also has a Radio station dedicated to traffic issues, the Governor reminded that when the Third Mainland first underwent repairs, there was no Traffic Radio in the state which is now available to enable information and movement to be communicated regularly.
The Governor also reiterated the need for efficient management of roads as a resource noting that part of the question which the people should be asking themselves now is if they have to be on the road, stating that such pertinent question should be asked especially during rush hours in the morning when people are heading to Lagos Island, is it necessary to be on the road at that time?.
He stressed that if there is no compelling reason to be on the road, one can make a telephone call, send an SMS, or use a Blackberry to chat as these constitute some of the traffic management strategies that can be utilized within the few weeks that the repairs would last.
The Governor who also spoke on media reports about the announcement of the closure of the Third Mainland Bridge for repairs by an agency of the Federal Government like the Federal Road Safety Corps said the Constitution clearly spells out what responsibilities each tier of government handles, adding: " We cannot continue this desperate encroachment of territories".
He said whilst the responsibility for managing the Third Mainland Bridge and maintenance is that of the Federal Government, that of managing traffic on it belongs to the State.
The traffic management responsibility belongs to the state, a bridge that crosses a Lagoon within the territory of a state lies within its municipal control for traffic. "A trunk road by definition is a road that connects two states like Lagos Ibadan Expressway. That is where the Federal Roads Safety Corps (FRSC) should be, not within the territory of the municipality of a State. It is this desperate encroachment of territories that might be responsible for the inaccurate information".
He said it is the expansion joints which are eight in number that is about to be fixed on the Third Mainland Bridge.
"Contrary to what has been reported, it is not a total closure but a partial closure where diversions will take place depending on what sections of the road will be worked upon. The Honourable Commissioner for Works, Transportation and Special Adviser on Works will brief you in details most probably by Wednesday about where the diversions will be and what to expect", Governor Fashola said.
The Governor who also spoke on media reports about his support for retention of Immunity Clause in the Constitution stated that he is supporting the retention not just by virtue of his position as a Governor but also as a student of constitution law and practitioner of constitutional law.
He said he understands too clearly the purpose for which the immunity clause was put in the Constitution, adding that they are there for the benefit of the people and not the office holder, stating that it is however regrettable that there have been abuses which tended to support calls for a removal of the Immunity Clause.
While describing such reaction as knee jerk, the Governor said he does not believe that Nigerians should take decisions without empirical evidence to support it.
He said part of the questions that Nigerians should ask themselves are: "How many people enjoy immunity in Nigeria. There are 36 State Governors and 36 Deputy Governors, the President and the Vice President, all together making 74. Is it 74 of us that are the problem?. So let us be empirical".
"Remember we have had the Police Fund Probe. Who enjoyed immunity among the people that were probed. Why hasn't the matter been concluded. We had the Power Probe. Who enjoyed Immunity there?. We had oil subsidy probe. The oil companies who were being investigated did not enjoy immunity. So in all these we shouldn't rush to throw away the baby with the bath water".
"Let us be empirical. Let us be analytical. Yes, there is a problem. Nobody disputes that, but are we proffering the right remedy. If you have headache, will you chop off your head or will you find out whether it is caused by A or B and find out whether it is aspirin, Alabukun, Panadol or Paracetamol that you need. The answer cannot be, 'oh the head is aching me', chop it off. The benefits of the Immunity Clause for now far outweighs the disadvantages".
He stressed that in this part where people often complain that government is not delivering services quickly enough and the same environment where a lot of things depend on whether the Governor approves or disapproves, will a Governor be expected to carry his files to court when he is summoned to come and give evidence every now and then?
"Those are the risks and before we jump into that river without a paddle, I owe a responsibility to share my own little knowledge about why I took that position", the Governor restated.
Also with the Governor during the press briefing were the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Ibirogba and Special Adviser on Media, Mr Hakeem Bello.