By Babatunde Fashola
You will recall that we announced a Service Charter in 2012.
Some of the pilot Ministries, Departments and Agencies have conducted extensive surveys across the state and we have noticed that some citizens are either unable to access government services during the week at all; or they find it difficult to do so because of the nature of their work or where they live.
Our surveys show that there is a favourable disposition of such people to access such services if it is available on Saturdays.
Consequently, in response to this demand, we have resolved to commence a Saturday service in some pilot ministries, departments and agencies with effect from the first Saturday in March 2013 excluding the last Saturday of every month which is reserved for sanitation day.
The services will be provided from 10am to 2pm only.
The ministries and departments involved are Ministry of Transportation to deal with issues of drivers’ training, drivers’ license, and traffic enforcement; Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, to deal with complaints and queries about building permits and related matters; and of course the Lands Bureau to deal with issues relating to lands.
The Head of Service has been mandated to publish the full details of how this will work and the limited scope of services that the pilot scheme will address at the start.
In terms of service delivery, I am also pleased to announce that last night (Monday night) we switched on the Ikorodu Road Street light project that completes the lighting up of our major highways right from central Lagos through Funsho Williams Avenue to Maryland.
The final leg of the street lighting project will now be delivered with the Mile 12-Ikorodu Road project right into the heart of Ikorodu when that project is completed.
These street light projects have been installed at a huge cost and they are kept on and maintained through regular payments for diesel and replacement of bulbs.
They have in no small way helped to keep our streets safe at night.
I urge motorists and pedestrians to take ownership of them and protect them from vandalization.
Still on services, the judicial arm of our government has concluded arrangement to commence Saturday sitting by Magistrates in Lagos State with effect from 2nd March 2013.
My Lord, the Honourable Chief Judge, will inform members of the public through the appropriate communication channel of the judiciary about the details of this service initiative.
What is instructive is that it will certainly improve access to justice and prevent people who are charged with minor offences from being held over the weekend only because there is no court before which they can be brought until the following Monday.
This is another first in the country and it simply shows that the depth of our commitment to improve service in the State is fathomless.
Before I conclude, let me remind you of some difficulties that we have faced that are weather related and man-made and which we can certainly do a lot to improve upon.
You might recall that as the rainy season was ending I drew attention to the risks of fire that characterized the onset of the dry weather season. In spite of the preparations that we made, we could not be in every home and not everybody took our advice to heart to play their part.
Some people stored inflammable materials like explosives and chemicals in residential homes. Others simply did not take enough care about managing electrical appliances.
The result was that we witnessed a high incidence of fire incidents that tasked our first responders.
In one weekend alone, in December, we attended to 22 fire incidents.
Many were put out by our dedicated firemen without too much damage, but the incidents at Breadfruit and Jankara occasioned massive losses.
My appeal again is that we must be more safety conscious to avoid preventable incidents like this.
While we await the delivery of the new firefighting equipment we ordered, to complement what we already have, we are also concluding plans to restore 400 fire hydrants that exist in metropolitan Lagos.
But as prepared as we are to fight fire, we believe that prevention and safety compliance will be our biggest protection.
I will also appeal to our traders, businessmen, market men and women to embrace the culture of insuring their goods, shops and warehouses. The premium is often not a lot.
It will also help to strengthen the insurance business and create jobs for young people who are professionals in that sector.
In addition, it will make it easy to recover losses when this inevitable does occur.
My corollary message of course to insurance companies is that they must win back the trust of the citizens by promptly paying claims and improving customer service levels.
In the area of public safety and general security, we will continue to publish safety tips as we develop them with our security experts and advisers; however I also want to appeal to parents to be more vigilant and involved in the development of their children and monitor the company they keep.
We must be extremely careful about the people we employ and entrust our homes and children to. This we can do by taking appropriate references, photographs and conducting background checks about potential employees.
The police and the State Security Service have assured me of their willingness to assist if citizens seek help.
Furthermore, we can help reduce incidents of crimes like kidnapping and rape by refusing to use unmarked and unregistered vehicles posing as public transportation.
When crime is committed with a regulated vehicle bearing the state’s hackney and carriage number, it is easier for law enforcement to investigate and apprehend the suspects.
The very idea of an unregistered vehicle or unpainted vehicle operating as public transport must raise our suspicion and safety consciousness that they may be a potential source of danger.
I believe that if we take some of these measure seriously, we can all help to make our society safer for ourselves and our children.
Finally, I must deal with the impending rainy season and assure you that your government has already started work in cleaning existing drains, accelerating the completion of those under construction and commencing the construction of new ones.
But the early rains we have seen in January and February are perhaps signs of a difficult season ahead.
We have seen a very severe winter in Europe and when all of the ice melts in spring around April, it will melt into the seas and oceans like the Atlantic Ocean which we share and create high water levels just around when our rainy season will start.
We have seen the City of Athens in Greece overcome by massive flooding over the last few days, which suggests that it will be difficult to manage our flooding this season.
I say difficult, but certainly not impossible.
We will see flash flooding, which is usual when the rainfall is heavy; but in most cases, the water will drain within a few hours and certainly in less than one full day.
This is the way snow stays for days in Europe when it is heavy and subsequently melts away. It is the reaction of nature.
In the way Europeans prepare for winter by getting warm clothing, fixing their heating system, we must all prepare for rainy season by clearing our drains, by refusing to dump refuse in them or dumping construction materials in them or outrightly building over them.
I am sure that with your continued support all our expectations for a better life, a safer state and the achievement of our prosperity are possible.
I assure you that until the very last day of our tenure, you can rest assured of our commitment to continue to make things better.
Lagos is working because you are all involved and playing your part.
Eko o ni baje o!
•Governor Fashola of Lagos State delivered this speech while rendering an account of his stewardship to commemorate the 2100 Days in Office at the Blue Roof, LTV 8 Complex, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos on Tuesday, 26 February, 2013.