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Governor Ambode says Lagos Light Rail to start operations by December .

Image result for picture of lagos Light Rail
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on Thursday restated his administration’s commitment in ensuring that the Blue Line of the light rail project is up and running by December this year.

Ambode, who spoke at the Fifth Lagos Corporate Assembly, a forum for public-private sector engagement held at the banquet hall of Lagos House, Ikeja, while responding to questions from chief executives of industries and members of the organised private sector (OPS), debunked claims that work had stopped on the first phase of the project connecting Mile 2 to CMS, saying the allegation was totally untrue.

A statement issued by his media aide, Mr. Habib Aruna, said Ambode informed his audience that “the truth is, you might not see the contractors but they are actually working on the waters for now and by December this year, the project will start running. So work is seriously ongoing”.
The governor added that government was also about to conclude the channelisation of the waterways in Lagos to improve water transportation so as to encourage investors and reduce the pressure on the roads in the state.

He assured members of the OPS as well as would-be investors that the state was more than willing and ready to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive with the overall aim of improving on the socio-economic well being of the citizens.
The governor said as a government, he was ready to partner with existing and would-be investors for industrial growth as long as such investors bring value to the state.

While responding to issues raised by captains of industry and members of the OPS at the forum tagged, “A+ Meets Business”, Ambode said as part of measures aimed at encouraging investment, his administration created the N25 billion Employment Trust Fund to give soft loans to entrepreneurs at three per cent, while the Office of Overseas Affairs and Investments, otherwise known as Lagos Global, the Office of Civic Engagement, as well as the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment Generation were equally established, in order to promote investment  opportunity.
He said as part of measures to create of an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, his administration was also in the process of establishing the Lagos Micro Finance Bank, which would go a long way in providing succour for business owners.
He said: “As we speak, we are in talks with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on this and very soon we shall come up with the Lagos Micro Finance Bank and this is another effort geared towards the economic well being of our people.”

Ambode said that the government was also in the process of transforming the Kuramo beach into a World Trade Convention Centre, assuring his audience that he was very much committed to showcasing the economic potential of the state to the rest of the world.
He disclosed that the reconstruction of the Oshodi-Apapa expressway was not included in the 2016 budget of the federal government, and expressed concern over the grave social impact it would have on the people of the state.
Also, the governor lamented that Apapa still “remains a nightmare to all companies on the axis”, but assured participants at the event that the issue of tank farms “will be a thing of the past if the Atlas Cove is pumping fuel to Mosinmi in Ogun State”.
Speaking on the strategy to drastically reduce traffic in Apapa and make life comfortable for people and businesses in the axis, Ambode recalled the security tour he recently embarked upon to Ishawo and Oke-Oko creek in the suburb of Ikorodu where he met with military personnel carrying out “Operation Awatse”, a joint military operation involving all the security agencies to tackle the menace of pipeline vandalism in the Arepo axis.

“The idea is that when we open up the area and construct the Ishawo-Oke-Oko creek road to connect the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway from there, we would have greatly reduced the gridlock on the expressway and then finally put a stop to the activities of pipeline vandals so that we can begin to directly pump petroleum products from Atlas Cove in Apapa to Mosimi, and then the tankers will have no business coming into Lagos to lift products,” Ambode explained.

On electricity supply in the state, Ambode said between now and 2017, he would unveil a plan to create clusters of Independent Power Projects (IPPs) across the state to improve power generation and ensure 24 hours electricity supply in Lagos.
In their response, the chief executives and members of the OPS complained about multiple levies and rates, which they said, officials of local council authorities in the state were charging.

Mrs. Nike Akande, President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), lamented the multiplicity of levies and fees collected by the councils in the state, cautioning that the manner at which there are imposed “is frustrating”.

“We have issues with the manner in which the local government councils manage this aspect of their functions.
“There are concerns about the methods, the processes and transparency. There are several instances of arbitrariness in the imposition of levies. Most often, these are at variance with approved rates.

“Some specific examples are: radio and television permits. Many organisations have suffered embarrassment following demand by local council officials for radio and television permits. Again, these come with a lot of arbitrariness with rates ranging from N50,000 to N200,000 per annum.
“On parking permits many organisations have been served with various charges for parking permits ranging from 100,000 per annum to N500,000 per annum depending on the location and number of parking lots.
“There are instances where both the local and the state officials make demands on the same companies for parking fees. For companies in the small and medium enterprise categories, these demands could be very burdensome.
“We appreciate the fact that the state government does not have direct responsibility for the administration of local governments, but we believe you can prevail on them for a moderation of the fees, streamlining of the levies/permits and proper coordination between the state and local councils,” she advised. 
She listed the mandatory licences and permits to include: Lagos Drivers’ Institute Licence, driver’s licence by the Road Safety, local government permit, hackney permit and dual carriage, vehicle licence, certificate of road worthiness, barge permit, conductor’s barge, vehicle identification tag, vehicle radio and television permit, vehicle outdoor mobile environmental sanitation permit, Nigerian Police Emblem, Lagos State Consolidated Emblem and the Ministry of Transport Certification [MOT] certificate.
These copious permits and licences will certainly create compliance problems. This has therefore created a problem of logistics for companies operating in the state, most of which are SMEs. The result of this is that many of the delivery vans would not go out of the factory gates until very late in the day when they would be sure that the VIOs, Road Safety and the local council officials have closed for the day,” she revealed.
She, however, commended Ambode for programmes aimed at securing lives and property and encouraging economic growth, but urged the governor to expedite action on the issuance of land titles, and also prevail on the federal government to fix the rail system in Apapa and relocate tank farms in the axis. 
Image result for picture of lagos Light Rail   

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