FASHOLA TASKS EXPERTS ON SOLUTION TO LAGOS MEGACITY CHALLENGES
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Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola has called on experts in health, education, environment and social welfare sectors to come up with recommendations on how his state can grapple with the challenges of a megacity that Lagos has become.
Fashola who made the call in Lagos at the opening of the Lagos Livable City Conference 2013 noted that the question about the livability of Lagos has become a matter of an abiding commitment for him and others in government.
Said he, “while it is true that there exists a rich harvest of data about the origins and evolution of cities as centers of human habitation, it is doubtful whether there is an agreeable gold standard that is applicable to all cities about what makes them livable.This must be so because as long as cities are about human civilization, their sizes, diversity and complexity of their people, they provide understandable justification for the difference in their livability needs,” Fashola added.
The Governor explained that the livability challenges in many Nigerian cities, Lagos included, are more intense as dictated by the demands of a large, growing and youthful population stressing that the livability challenge in Lagos was defined by the need to reduce fatalities arising from road traffic accidents.
According to him, one year after implementing an amended road traffic law, stateside incidents of road traffic accidents from motorcycle dropped from 646 accidents a month to 112 accidents a month adding that deaths from motorcycle accidents also dropped from 15 a month to one a month while no deaths at all were recorded in August, September and October 2013.
“We have seen an emergence of more streets jogging by our citizens,more bicycle by our children, and although this was not initially an objective, we seized on the promise of a healthier, fitter and less prone to obesity citizenry. This has led us to a re-assessment of our road infrastructure designs and the first dedicated bicycle lanes are on the way as a pilot scheme to support livability”, Fashola added.
The Governor noted that the plurality of Lagos, its immigrant population and commercial appeal define very clearly the responsibility that is upon administrators and managers of the city to support everyone who calls Lagos their home whether they are rich or poor, indigenous or immigrant, able bodied or physically challenged, young or old stressing that the big challenge is how government can make the economic and commercial magnet livable and inclusive for all.
Fashola opined that the symptoms of Lagos livability lies in its ability to provide opportunities quite often from almost nothing stressing that the essence of the Lagos Livability Conference was partly how stakeholders can multiply these opportunities in such a way that other people’s journeys to Lagos do not end in slavery, destitution, crime, drug abuse, mental illness or sudden and avoidable death.
Said he,“quite apart from promising opportunities, the other main objective of this conference will be the exposition of the responsibilities that come with rights and opportunities. These are responsibilities that emphasize the nature of the commonwealth from which the successes of livable cities derive. Responsibilities such as sharing, by prompt and voluntary payment of taxes by those who earn incomes, compliance with laws, rules and regulations such as public health laws, traffic laws, building and planning laws and so much more. Indeed they will also be defined by responsibilities driven by codes of morality and compassion for humanity that drives us to support the physically challenged, elderly, the vulnerable and those with special needs.”
Fashola stated that the need to grapple with the challenges of managing the megacity that Lagos has become coupled with the need to address various social, environmental and health issues that are attendants of a mega city made the Lagos livable city conference a necessity.
Earlier, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris noted that the subject of the conference; ‘preparing for mental and social health needs of the Lagos Mega-City’ is a perfect example of what is more of a recurrent factor in the issues that confront the managers of public affairs and urban cities, especially public health or urban health in the modern day.
Said he, “half of humanity lives in urban areas and the proportion is growing. This scale of growth offers many opportunities but present new social, economic and environmental challenges for those who live, work and do business in them. This therefore requires a swift and appropriate response by a range of stakeholders”.
Idris who explained that cities offer both the best and the worst environments for health and well being stressed that multiple determinants converge to influence the health status of city dwellers adding that positive and negative influences tend to cluster according to the specific neighborhood or place within the city
“That health, in turn, an impact on everything else is very obvious. The creativity and productivity of a society are significantly enhanced or limited by the mental well being of the generality of the citizenry. We are certain this is the way to go, just as we are certain that if we get the best template for ensuring the mental and social health of the good people of Lagos as we go through the megacity experience, a lot of other things will fall into place for us”, he opined.