Motorists, travellers, stakeholders recount ugly experiences on Owo/Ikare-Akoko Road
‘Why Federal Govt must rescue us from this road’
From bamigbola gbolagunte, Akure
A recent visit to the ever-busy Owo/Ikare-Akoko Road in the northern part of Ondo State revealed a road in a complete state of disrepair. It is characterized by potholes and cut-off sections laden with pebbles put in place by volunteers.
The road, despite its significance as it joins the South Western part of the country to the North has over the years been abandoned by the Federal Government. No thanks to the immediate past administration, which claimed to have awarded the contract for the expansion of the road, with nothing to show for it.
The exact number of lives lost on the road could not be ascertained at press time. Hardly is there any day that fatal accident would not occur on the road, turning the road to a death trap.
Efforts to get the attention of the Federal Government by residents of both Owo and Ikare-Akoko failed. Staff of the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo and the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owo, who reside in Akure, ply the road daily and many of them have been victims of the evil that happen on the bad.
Aside lives that were being lost on the road, the potholes and ditches, coupled with the narrowness of the road often cause heavy traffic. There were occasions that trailers fell on the road making other motorists to sleep on the road. This is because there is no alternative route.
Efforts made by the Federal Roads Safety Corps (FRSC) to ameliorate the sufferings of motorists and passengers on the road have not yielded any result. The situation has become more terrible as a result of recent rains, making it difficult for drivers to navigate. This has also resulted in increase in accident rate, as no fewer than seven accidents were recorded last week alone.
Residents of the adjourning towns to Ikare-Akoko and Owo, which include Oka-Akoko, Etioro-Akokoko, Agindi-Akoko and Akungba-Akoko have sorrowful tales of the road to share. It was gathered that the heavy concentration of trucks damaged the road and contributed to accident cases. A good number of trucks belonging to companies and private individuals was said to have been involved in accident at different times on the road.
According to statistics released by the Ondo State sector command of the FRSC, accidents on the road had consumed over 250 persons. In this year alone, more than 45 lives were lost to vehicular accidents and the major cause of accident was said to be the topography of the road, which was constructed on the valley between hills.
The member representing Akoko North West/South in the House of Representatives, Babatunde Kolawole, said he made several attempts to call the attention of the Federal Government to the road, promising that the road would soon be rehabilitated.
A community leader in Oka-Akoko, Mr Wale Gidado, said he convened a stakeholders’ meeting on the way out of the problem. He noted that the road has caused the untimely death of many residents of Oka-Akoko, Ikare-Akoko and other communities:
“On a single day, six accidents occurred at different locations on the road. The family members of those who died in the accident are still living with the ugly memory till today. This is the reason we are calling on the Federal Government to do something urgently to prevent further death on the road.
“Our children cannot go out the way they want both in the day and at night. We cannot allow our children to go to school on their own, all for the fear of accident on the highway that passed here to
Abuja. Particularly, trucks plying the road are often responsible for many of the accidents on the road.
The Federal Government awarded the construction of the road in 1996, and we had taught that the road
would bring development to our town and other communities around us. But the road has brought untold problem and calamity to us as a community as it had consumed many lives of our dear people.
“I have the record to show that over 250 lives of innocent people have been lost on this road at different times. In fact, 87 people died on a single day in an accident. This is gruesome and highly unfortunate.
“We have done our best to call government’s attention to the situation, but nothing meaningful has ever been done by our government, both at the federal and state levels.”
Another community leader, Mr Saliu Kolawole, observed: “Though, residents of Ikare and Owo are always the victims of the accident, many travelers who are not indigenes of the town have also died on the road. So, it is not just an issue that affects our towns but it is an issue about Nigeria, which our government must address.”
He submitted that the road should be rehabilitated if accident will be prevented on it, just as he noted that signposts should be erected at different points for drivers to be informed of the topography of the road, especially while approaching it from either the South or the North.
He also suggested that heavy trucks should be discouraged from passing the road, while the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) is made to constantly rehabilitate bad portions of the road to avoid accidents.
A commercial driver, Mr. Kolade Williams, said he had ugly experiences on the road and called on the Federal Government to repair it, saying the road has continued to be a death trap. Plying the route, he said, is a terrible experience as he has to spend thousands of naira on monthly basis on his health and servicing his vehicle.