Determined to sustain the tempo of infrastructural development in Lagos, Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) last week led some members of the State Executive Council to meetings with major Public Private Partnership financial institutions and construction firms in Beijing, China.
Dominating the various meetings and inspections which the Governor and members of his delegation held during the three day visit was the financing of infrastructure in Lagos through Public Private Partnerships especially in the areas of housing, roads and bridges as well as the Lekki Free Zone.
A statement by the Special Adviser on Media to the Governor, Mr. Hakeem Bello, noted that at each of the meetings with such major Chinese institutions like the China Railway Construction Corporation Limited (CRCC), the Export-Import Bank of China and the Industrial and the Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Governor Fashola underscored the investment opportunities inherent in the highlighted areas of infrastructure and the role direct financing through such institutions could play in bringing identified projects to reality.
Bello said during a high profile meeting with the management of the China Railway Construction Corporation Limited led by its President, Mr. Zhan Zongyan, Governor Fashola commended diligence and commitment of successive leadership of the affiliate company, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) which has led to significant progress being made in Lagos on such landmark projects like the Lekki Free Zone and the Blue line of the Lagos Mass Transit Rail.
“Essentially, you have very, very wonderful representatives in Nigeria and I think you must be very proud of them because not only have they contributed to the development of the State, they have shown a clear understanding of the local challenges and they have been able to work with us to overcome them”, said the Governor.
Speaking on the purpose of the visit, Fashola said one of the immediate priority areas is the Lekki Free Zone where progress is being made and industrialists are beginning to make commitments that they would want to start building their factories as a first step towards building industries.
Identifying real estate development as another area of priority, the Governor said the best way to describe the opportunity and the problem is that 21 million people in Lagos need about four million homes and that the investment in Lekki and the planned investment in Ikoyi is probably appealing to a smaller market rather than a larger market.
He emphasised that the real demand is with the working class people who require homes which in an ideal situation would be to give them through some types of deferred financing of around ten years.
“What we are doing now as a government is building apartment blocks. And those apartment blocks have one bedroom, two bedrooms and three bedroom flats. And the one bedroom flat is about 60 square metres, two bedrooms is about 75 square metres while three bedroom is 120 square metres and what we are planning to do is sell those houses on a 10 year repayment mortgage”.
“I know that there are other demand levels where people may be able to probably pay over five years but there are also those who can pay immediately but to me the real sustainable plan is a minimum of 10 years” ,Governor Fashola stated.
The Governor explained that what the present administration is offering now in terms of real estate development is to take benefit of the investment that the state has made along the Badagry corridor where it is building the expansion of the road and also building the rail.
“So I think we can move people there because there is a lot of virgin land. It is on both sides of LASU-IBA road which incidentally you built. So my sense is that we plan a new town there and it’s already behind the University, so there is an existing anchor community there. So we can plan residence, a shopping mall and so on”, the Governor said.
In addition to the high profile meetings, Governor Fashola and his entourage which included the Commissioners for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Olusola Oworu; Finance, Mr. Ayo Gbeleyi; Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Ben Akabueze; Establishment and Training. Mrs. Florence Oguntuase; and the Managing Director of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Authority (LAMATA), Dr. Dayo Mobereola among others also visited the factories of the Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Rail Stock Company Limited where they inspected coaches being under construction and completed ones.