By Bukola Hameed
Following nationwide tension caused by persistent fuel shortage and the debacle of currency exchange by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Lagos State Government has announced palliative measures to cushion effects of the crises on residents.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Wednesday, directed 50 per cent fare reduction in all State-owned transportation services, effective Thursday.
Passengers using BRT buses, LAGRIDE taxi-scheme, First Mile and Last Mile buses, and Lagos Ferry Services (LAGFERRY) will enjoy the palliative for the next one week, using their Cowry Cards.
The Governor also gave express permission to all fuel stations operating within Lagos to commence 24-hour operations to allow residents buy fuel without having to stay in queues for hours.
The controversy over the CBN currency exchange deadline, Sanwo-Olu said, has had dislocation effect on Lagosians, limiting their access to cash for daily transactions and making their means of sustenance difficult.
The Governor announced establishment of food banks in various parts of the State for distribution of food items to vulnerable families hit by the lingering crisis.
He said: “I have found it necessary to address the good people of Lagos, following some event in our dear country. The currency exchange and the fuel situation have, no doubt, raised the tension in the land. I commend our dear citizens for your patience and understanding in the face of hardship that you have experienced in recent days. Your resilience has been remarkable. You stand firm in demonstration of your confidence in our ability to protect your interest in these difficult days.
“The current situation has had telling effects on States and we have taken some steps to cushion the effects on your wellbeing. To support you in weathering these stormy days, I hereby announce a 50 per cent cut in fares on all our BRT buses, LAGRIDE taxi-scheme, First Mile and Last Mile buses, and Lagos Ferry Services (LAGFERRY). This will take effect from tomorrow (Thursday) for the next seven days. We will push out more Cowry Cards to enable more Lagosians get onboard our services.
“I have also directed that food banks be set up in various parts of the State to cater for the vulnerable. We have identified stakeholders and organisations that will help distribute food stuff to the vulnerable people in various communities hit by the current situation. By this, we are not out to solve the entire economic crisis created by the currency swap programme, but we understand this is a difficult moment for vulnerable individuals. The relief will help until normalcy is restored.”
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the State Government had suspended the ongoing construction work on Buba Marwa Road, the dual carriageway leading to tank farms in Ijegun Egba from where 40 percent of petroleum products are transported to other parts of the country.
The Governor said the road, which is about 50 per cent completed, will give unhindered access to petrol tankers to transport products to filling stations, thereby increasing supply of petroleum products.
He said: “There have been talks between the State Government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) on the lingering fuel shortage. NNPCL demanded Ijegun Egba tank owners and operators’ unhindered access to the tank farms where about 40 per cent of petroleum products come from.
“We have been able to do that by rearranging the timing of the work on the Buba Marwa Road, the dual carriageway that leads to the tank farms. The road is about 60 per cent completed, but I have directed suspension of the construction work on the highway in order to improve supply of petroleum products.”
Sanwo-Olu hailed the Supreme Court for its pronouncement on the currency exchange crisis, stressing that the apex court’s “wise intervention” on the matter would help douse the nationwide tension.
The Governor also commended security agencies, including the Military, Department of State Services, the police, Civil Defense and Neighbourhood Watch, for being proactive and on alert to protect law-abiding residents.
He warned criminals and mischief makers, who may want to exploit the situation as an opportunity to incite violence, saying any attempt by criminally-minded individuals to breach the peace in Lagos would be counterproductive.
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