For commuters plying the Atan-Agbara Road in the Ado Odo-Ota Local Government Area (LGA) and Agbara-Igbesa Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Ogun State, as well as residents of the area, it has been an unending song of lamentations over the deplorable state of the only major road in the area.
Indeed, it is no exaggeration that commuting between Atan and Agbara is akin to a punishing ordeal. It was gathered that the abandoned construction at the Lusada section of the road has further compounded the people’s woes. And everyone using the road is groaning in pain.
The residents believe that they have been abandoned by both the Federal and state governments.
The road links Agbara, Atan, Ota, Sango, Lusada in Ogun, and Badagry, Iba, Ojo among others in Lagos State.
There is hardly a day that passes without a record of accident on the busy axis, which leaves some killed and others with life-threatening injuries. The lifespan of vehicles plying the route has been drastically reduced. Private and commercial vehicle owners have to visit the mechanic workshop to fix either major and minor faults on their vehicles due to the failed portions.
Part of the suffering being experienced by the residents and other users of the road is perennial gridlock. During rush hours, motorists and commuters could spend as many as three to four hours for a journey of about ten or 15 minutes.
When it rains, most of the gullies on the road are covered with flood, making it more difficult for the drivers to manoeuvre through the bad portions. Right from Akinwunmi bus stop, through Lusada, Igbesa, Doyin down to Agbara, the road is nothing to write home about.
Though the government has graded a part of the road recently, the residents are calling for a lasting solution rather than palliative. They raised the alarm that the temporary facelift has started collapsing, less than one month after the intervention. Those who have stayed long in the area told the reporter that the days of plying the road without any hitch has since been eroded by the collapsed portions. The people said the ongoing repair works at some portions of the road beyond Atan was like a drop in the ocean.
Business owners are also lamenting that they have continued to suffer huge losses, as patronage dwindles on daily basis. It was gathered that many companies have relocated from the axis. Prospective investors are also scared to site businesses in the area due to the negative news emanating from the community about the road.
A businessman, who deals in fairly-used leather bags at Lusada bus stop, Mr. Eberechukwu Okoro said: “I have been living here since 2000. Until about six or seven years ago, we used to enjoying moving from one end of the road to another. Then it didn’t take anyone more than ten or 15 minutes to drive from Agbara to Atan and vice versa. But today, it is a different story.”
It was also gathered that the frequent crashes on the road have made a number of privately-owned schools to lose their students to schools located outside the area. The parents wouldn’t want to expose their children to undeserving danger, or worse still, death, as a result of the high risk caused by the sorry state of the road.
“Our people have protested at different times, calling on the state government to come to our aid, but all to no avail. It is sad that successive governments have refused to understand our plight and fix the road. We are all tax payers in one way or the other. A sensitive government should be able to attend to the people’s needs, especially when it is affecting their day-to-day activities. The Ogun State Government has neglected its campaign promises hiding under the guise that the road is a federal one. But all the same state government comes here every now and then to collect revenues from us.
“We were jubilating some time ago when news came in that the former governor, Ibikunle Amosun had promised to tar the road. But we waited until his administration elapsed without witnessing anything positive. Without mincing words, many people here have lost their means of livelihood. Ogun State government has failed us. When there is time for electioneering they will remember us but after election is won, they will abandon us,” Okoro stated.
Another resident at Kofedoti bus stop also lamented: “I have only stayed in this area for three years and I have not enjoyed plying the road for once. This is the only road I can take to my house in Opic Estate. This road is in a very terrible state and the rainy season makes it worse, though there is no season that we don’t suffer. During the dry season, everywhere will be dusty and during the rainy season, the road is always flooded.
“Sometimes, we pay as much as N500 bus fare from Agbara to Atan. This is a journey that used to cost us N150 or N200. We are really suffering here. The kind of stress we face on the road is more than the work we perform when we get to our places of work. It is affecting us psychologically. The last time rain fell heavily, everyone was stranded at the various bus stops in the evening. We trek on many occasions because everywhere will be blocked and no commercial driver will be ready to put his vehicle on the road.
“Boarding motorcycles is more expensive and it is also risky. The riders are so reckless and often involved in accidents. Most times, everywhere were blocked because trucks that are loaded with goods fall on the road. I have spent hours on the road and got home midnight on different instances. The bad road is responsible for the high number of accidents that had claimed the lives of many people plying the route. There have been times when containers from trucks fell on smaller vehicles and killed the passengers inside the vehicles.”
A commercial driver on the route, Mr. Joseph Babatunde, said the dilapidated state of the road has caused incalculable damage to most transporters’ vehicles and significantly reduced their incomes. He explained that many commuters do everything possible to avoid the Atan-Agbara route even though other routes were farther.
“There was a particular day that my bus developed a fault because water from the flood had entered into the gear box and damaged it. I had to borrow about N50, 000 to repair it before I could continue with my business. Our businesses have been affected. We are pleading with the government to come to our aid by reconstructing the entire road,” he said.
It was learnt that many industries which are located on the stretch of the road are struggling to remain in business due to the bad road. It has remained a major hindrance to productivity, as goods worth millions of naira are lost to frequent accidents on the road.
Atan-Agbara community plays host to over 80 industries manufacturing various consumer goods being distributed across the country. Notable industries in the axis include GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Unilever, Nestle Plc, Beloxxi Group, Procter & Gamble, Sunsteel Industries Ltd, Cometstar Manufacturing Company Ltd, GZ Industries, and Drury Industries Limited, among others.
A landlord in Akore community, near Atan, Mr. Ola Bamigbetan, who described the people’s experiences on the road as nightmarish, knocked the governments for not responding to the community’s outcry, despite the huge revenue being generated from the companies. He lamented that the road was an unwanted visa to hell, as small vehicles contend with the many fully loaded container-laden trailers that ply the road daily. The trailer drivers are said to carelessly delve into the so many gully-like potholes, not minding if the containers they are conveying fall or endanger the lives of other commuters.
He called on the Federal Government to take over the construction of the Atan-Lusada-Agbara Road from the state government. He expressed the optimism that if the Federal Government takes over the construction, there would be improvement and the people’s suffering would be reduced.