Sanwo-Olu Implements Relief Measures, Decreases Work Days for Lagos Civil Servants Amid Hardship

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Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has announced sweeping interventions which the State will be implementing in order to reduce the effects of the current economic hardship on its citizens.

The Governor, during a live media chat on Thursday, conveyed his empathy to the State’s residents groaning under the rising cost of living, resulting in inflation of food and commodities prices.

Sanwo-Olu rolled out layers of measures targeted at vulnerable populations within the State to mitigate the impact of the hardship and bring about immediate ease, just as the Federal Government led the recovery efforts.

The Governor bared it all at the live programme anchored by veteran media practitioners led by Dr. Reuben Abati of Arise TV and Babajide Kolade-Otitoju of Television Continental (TVC). Others are General Manager of Lagos Television, Mrs Adesola Kosoko, and Channels TV’s Jeffery Uzomma.

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As part of the measures to cushion the harsh economic situation, Sanwo-Olu announced new work schedule for the workforce in the State’s civil service. From next week, State workers on Grade Level 1 to 14 will be permitted to work three times weekly until further notice.

Also, civil servants on Grade Level 15 to 17 will work four days in a week.

Sanwo-Olu said the measure was not intended to disrupt governance. The move, he said, was to reduce the pressure daily borne by workers in carrying out their duties in the period of economic hardship. The Governor said the measure would save the staff of additional stress.

Besides, Sanwo-Olu announced a 25 per cent fare slash across the State-owned public transport channels, including BRT, train and ferry services.

The Governor said he had instructed all government departments and agencies to design modalities for immediate implementation of the measures.

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He said: “I convey our deepest empathy to our citizens over the current hardship occasioned by inflation commodities prices. We are not unaware and unmindful of the current situation, but as leaders, we have the responsibility to bring immediate ease to our people. Given the nature of challenges that we are facing presently, we have designed creative means to ease the hardship on our people, starting with public servants.

“Effective from next week, the working hours of workers from Level 1 to Level 14 in the State’s civil service will be rescheduled. They will now come to office for maximum period of three times in a week. This measure will not shut down governance, neither will it disrupt operations of Government. It will all be calendarised and scheduled. Workers in Level 15 to Level 17 will be required to work four times in a week. All we seek to achieve is reducing the pressure on our workers and save them of additional stress.

“Rising cost of transportation has also made it pertinent for us to initiate an intervention in the sector. For the public using the Government-owned transport services, we are implementing 25 per cent fare reduction on all our public transportation channels. We are also working with various commercial transporters to assist in little way we can to ease the situation. Instructions have been given to government functionaries for the implementation of these measures; modalities will be provided.”

To address the rising food prices, Sanwo-Olu announced three layers of agricultural interventions. He said the State Government would be distributing combo packages of food items to vulnerable Lagosians, targeting 300,000 households.

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The Governor said the State had concluded the procurement of over 100 trailers of rice and other food items, but currently fine-tunning the logistics for seamless distribution to the beneficiaries.

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Sanwo-Olu said Lagos would be opening “Sunday Market” in 42 communities across the State, where staple food would be available for residents to buy at reduced prices. Shoppers would only be able to buy items not more than N25,000, with each shopper getting 25 per cent rebate immediately after purchase.

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The Sunday Market, the Governor said, will open for the next five weeks.

“The third level of our intervention in agriculture sector is what we call “Soup Bowl”, which we similarly rolled out during COVID-19 lockdown. We have identified local cafeteria operators and caterers within communities. Funds will be sent to them to prepare the soup bowls. Vouchers will be given to anybody to walk in and eat free of charge. We want to be able to feed between 1,000 and 1,500 people in every Local Government Area daily for the next 30 to 60 days at the first instance,” he said.

In education, Sanwo-Olu introduced additional transport support for classroom teachers to enable them keep their work schedule, while pupils across public schools would continue their five-day school attendance.

For the time being, the Governor suspended the directive compelling parents to show evidence of tax payment in order to enroll their wards in school. This is to discourage pupil absenteeism and dropping out of school.

In health, Sanwo-Olu also reintroduced free child delivery programme for expectant mothers in all the State-owned General Hospitals and special maternity centres. The State Government, he said, would take up the cost of the child delivery, including Caesarean section.

He said: “We believe this measure would help reduce pressure on families. We are also working with the State-owned hospitals to reduce the cost of some certain drugs, such as hypertension medication.

“All the six health districts in Lagos will roll out bi-weekly community health mission over the next three months, where residents would enjoy free check-up for diabetes, blood pressure and eye testing. There will be free medications to be given to patients to manage observed conditions.”

Sanwo-Olu also touched other areas of his Government’s activities during the media chat, including the collaborative plan with the Local Government authorities to reconstruct 180 inner roads across the State.

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He reiterated Lagos’ readiness of 10,000 men for state police in the case of the Federal Government giving full constitutional approval for creation of State Police outfit.

The Governor said hard times called for hard decisions by the Government, urging those calling for civil unrest and industrial action to desist from the plan. He noted that paralysing the economy would not bring about solutions.

He pleaded for patience and understanding, noting that the nation would be out of the woods in the fullness of the reforms initiated by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Addressing Lagosians, Sanwo-Olu said: “As incident commander, I am giving you the commitment that the bipartisan advisory committee that we have put together, will welcome ideas and advice from everyone that can lead to more solution out of the challenges that we have found ourselves.

“In terms of policies, we will continue to do everything within our means that the greatest good gets to the greatest number. Lagosians are resourceful and hardworking, they are commercially driven self-starters. Those are the values I want all of us to build our hope around.”

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