Three years after the World Bank canceled its $200 million slum upgrading scheme in nine communities, namely Amukoko, Ajegunle, Agege, Badia, Ijeshatedo, Iwaya, Ilaje, Bariga and Makoko, under the ‘Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project’, French government seems to have come to the rescue, with the pledge the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will strengthen its partnership, especially upgrading slums and widening its infrastructure development projects.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to his Office in Alausa by Mr. Jean – Pierre Marcella, Head of Sub-Saharan Africa Department, Agence Francaise de Development (AFD), as part of his two day official visit to Nigeria, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, noted that with a growing population of over 20 million people, the state government alone can not provide all the infrastructure needs of its people. He explained that the desire of government to make life more comfortable for Lagosians and improve their standard of living necessitated its partnership with various organisations that have the capacity and technical requirements to add value to its urban renewal projects.
The Deputy Governor, who represented the Governor and led other members of the State Executive Council to receive the AFD officials, stated that previous partnership with the French Agency in the past had yielded positive result as it has helped government to record success in transportation, water provision and energy.
He specifically thanked the agency for partnering with the state government in the extension and execution of Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) Ikorodu / Mile 12 link road, which has helped to ease the transportation problem as well as resulted in the increase in numbers of commuters conveyed by BRT buses on daily basis in the corridor.
The Governor hinted that one of the top priority projects of the state government is the upgrading of its slum areas by executing developmental projects in the region in order to make life more comfortable for the people of the area and bring dividends of democracy to their door steps.
While assuring the visiting French agency of government’s total commitment to the implementation of all its urban renewal programmes, Ambode affirmed that the state government would continue to create enabling environment that would give investors quick return on their investment in a safe and secured atmosphere.
He said that government would welcome any partnership that can help to fast track the implementation of developmental projects, especially in the provision of portable water, road and rail transportation, housing, upgrading of slums as well as building a clean, safe and sustainable environment.
Governor Ambode explained that the creation of the Office of Overseas Affairs and Investments (Lagos Global) by the present administration was intended to underscore government’s commitment to genuine foreign relations and partnership for mutual benefit, adding that the Office has the mandate of facilitating a link between the state government and any intending foreign investor and ensure transparency in all the transactions between the two parties.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation, who is also the Head of Sub- Sahara Africa Department at Agence Francaise de Development, (AFD), Paris, Mr. Jean Pierre Marcelli explained that the team was in Lagos as part of a two day official visit to Nigeria to hold consultation with the state government towards strengthening the partnership between AFD and the Lagos State government.
He said the visit became necessary because it would help to take stock of various on-going projects embarked upon by the agency since 2008 in the state and to brief the Governor on their status in order to assist his team when holding consultation with the state government on how to strengthen the relationship for more beneficial result.
He said the Agency is interested in scaling up its operations and services in the country having recorded success in transportation and other areas of partnership with the federal and state governments in Nigeria.