It is the responsibility of the government to provide basic infrastructure for the citizens using taxpayer’s money. Such infrastructure includes access roads, water and other social amenities, but that appears not to be the case in Lagos State as taxpayers are often left to bear the brunt of an unending infrastructural crisis.
From a lack of good road network, water and street lights that have worsened the security situation in the state, Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest commercial city, is enveloped in a huge infrastructural crisis that appears to have overwhelmed the government.
The absence of effective drainage system and other infrastructure such as roads have forced gully erosion on many parts of the state, forcing residents to resort to self-help projects and other desperate means to starve off environmental degradation.
More worrying is the fact that in addition to the years of infrastructural neglect, the state still collects huge amounts of tax and other forms of levies from residents in the name of providing basic infrastructure.
Business day recently visited one ‘Prayer Estate’ around Apple Junction in Local Government Area of the state where residents in the area raised outcry on the deplorable state of infrastructure and the incessant neglect by the state government in carrying out the basic functions of providing basic infrastructure for its populace.
This is despite the state collecting what they termed as capital development levy in excess of N600,000 each in the name of using the funds for infrastructural development in the area.
At every passing day, the deplorable state of infrastructure continues to move from bad to worse during the recent rainy season to the point that residents could not access their homes as their houses were flooded due to lack of drainage system.
Aside the pains of having to move through the floods to gain access in and out of their homes, they were also forced to run on generators, not because there was no power, but no means of running electricity into their houses.
No transformers and no poles.
Residents in the area who spoke with Businessday alleged there have been numerous moves to get the attention of the state government to their plight, but instead of the Lagos State government coming to their aid their request had been greeted by years of neglect.
“We have written so many letters trying to get the attention of both the state and local government on the issue but no response,” Emmanuel Nwora, a resident who has stayed in the estate for more than 16 years, told Businessday.
Nwora and other residents who sat for more than three hours with our correspondent explained that at the time they moved into the estate, added to lack roads, the whole area was a swamp and waterlogged hence residents had to do ‘raft foundation’ for their properties to stand.
Another resident said in 2017 when he bought the land, the state government gave him an allocation for a fee called ‘capital development,’ saying the money would be used for infrastructure development.
“I also paid for building approval but since that time, there has been no form of development or construction whatsoever from the state government,” he said,wondering why the government would neglect an area as theirs where every house has a Certificate of Occupancy (Cofo) and are upto date in paying taxes.
With an approximate 350 plots situated in the estate, some N210 million may have been paidascapitaldevelopmentlevy to the government, according to Businessday estimates.
This excludes other forms of taxes paid to the government, yet no visible infrastructural project to show for.
Phone calls placed to the state government through the number on the website lagosstate.gov.ng were not immediately responded to. Messages seeking comments from the state government were also not acknowledged.
Long years of infrastructural neglect by the state means residents had to spend their own money, in the wake of falling and low standard of income, to fund public infrastructure.
In another visit to the estate, the residents had constructed a new 7000 square meters of interlock roads, added to the 1000 square meters they had earlier built.
They had also bought two 500kva and one 300kva transformers, and had mounted street lights, bought poles and wires to run electricity to their homes.
So far, over N200 million voluntary contributions from the residents have gone into funding the aforementioned projects, they said. Business
Day saw some of the ongoing projects in the estate.
“We would appreciate it if the government can come in, see what we have done, improve on it, and if possible, give us rebates for our land use charge,” Nwora said.
The plight faced by residents of ‘Prayer Estate’ narrows the challenge taxpayers living in Lagos encounter.
Other estates in other parts of the state have had to embark on key projects on their own after hopes of waiting for the government to fund infrastructure appears to be fading.
Aside the fact Lagos is be devilled with a poor road network, the few available roads have been under siege by trucks and tanker drivers who have turned the roads to their places of abode.
This has turned to a constant nightmare and a loss of productivity for its over 20 million populace, as they have to spend long hours in traffic daily, with the state for the third consecutive time, topping the list of 140 cities to emerge worst place to live in the world, according to 2019 Global Livability Index by the economist intelligence unit.
Only 44 percent of the state is covered by public water supply, and this serves less than 16 percent of the population, based on official data.
Being Nigeria’s commercial city, accounting for close to 30 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, Lagos infrastructure development is critical to the overall economy.
The state aims to become a 21st-century mega city but that is impossible without a good road network and availability of other social amenities to drive investments and make life better for residents.
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