By Lukman Olabiyi
For years, they groaned and grumbled. In their numbers, they whined and wailed relentlessly, as they bemoaned their own fate and the pathetic state of their roads. For residents of Ikorodu, those were the years of agony.
Indeed, in the scores of communities situated within the Ikorodu Division of Lagos, good roads were an anathema. Everywhere you went, bad roads stared at you. Commuting within and outside the town was a veritable ride in palpable distress.
Apart from the Lagos/Ikorodu Expressway, the only artery to the area from Ketu/Mile 12, which is motorable, majority of the roads within the town have totally collapsed.
Among the terrible roads in the axis are Isawo Road, which links over 30 communities;, Ikorodu/Shagamu Road linking Ogun State; Itokin Road linking Ogun State and Epe Division; Oba Sekunmade Road leading to Igbogbo and its environs.
But Ijede Road was particularly problematic. From Itamaga through Idiroko to Cele to Gbaga, from Onitoro to Eleshin and Elepe, and the many communities in the axis, there was little cause for cheer. In the past seven years, the road totally collapsed, and pleas by residents for the immediate past administration in Lagos to come to their aid fell on deaf ears.
But the narratives have been changing in the past two years, since Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu took over the mantle of leadership in the state.
At the moment, many roads in the area have become major construction sites. Residents have praised Governor Sanwo-Olu’s administration for initiating many interventions in Ikorodu. Besides roads, the government is building the third largest rice mill in the world at Imota.
On Wednesday June 9, the prayers of many Ikorodu residents were answered, as the governor opened the newly reconstructed Ijede Road.
Residents of the area defied the midday downpour to receive the governor and his team for the formal inauguration of the 6.05 kilometre-long dualised stretch, traversing Itamaga and Ewu Elepe.
Sanwo-Olu also announced that construction work would start on the second phase of the project, measuring 5.9Km from Ewu Elepe to Gberigbe, which is the gateway to the Imota Rice Mill being built by the state government.
Besides commissioning the road, the governor also handed over compensation cheques of varying amounts to residents, representatives of worship centres and businesses affected by the construction of Ijede Road, Igbogbo-Igbe Road expansion project, Oba Sekumade Road rehabilitation and Agric-Isawo Road construction.
The Ijede Road, which was a single carriageway before its reconstruction, cuts across four local government areas (LGAs) and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs). Its condition had left commuters groaning until the Sanwo-Olu administration awarded the contract for the road rehabilitation in December 2019.
Sanwo-Olu said the commissioning marked another fulfilment of his pledge to deliver infrastructure that would assuage the pain and bring comfort to the electorate. He said the Ijede Road was delivered ahead of schedule, despite the disruption of activities occasioned by the outbreak of COVID-19.
He said: “As a proactive government, we completely understand that good roads are a catalyst for socio-economic development. We will continue to fulfil our promise of providing Lagosians with a modern, safe, decent and reliable intermodal transport system. Ikorodu Division has had a fair share in the on-going infrastructure projects across the State.
“In December 2019, we were here to flag-off the extensive rehabilitation works on Ijede Road. On that occasion, I made a promise that the contractor would immediately move to site and that the project would be delivered in 18 months.
“At that time, we did not envisage the devastating impact of the COVID 19 pandemic and the effect of the ensuing lockdown on the way we work and implement our projects. We also did not envision the EndSARS protests that degenerated into the wanton destruction of lives and property.
“Despite these challenges and the dwindling financial resources of the state, we have kept our promise and the rehabilitated Ijede Road (Itamaga-Ewu Elepe Section) is being delivered today as scheduled.
“The Ijede Road we are inaugurating today is an important intersection that connects about 37 communities. We promised we would rehabilitate and upgrade the road to bring succour to our people who daily bear pains in commuting on the axis. We have delivered the first phase, which stops at Ewu Elepe. There will be extension of the construction project to Gberigbe Town and Ijede Jetty, which is the Phase 2 of the work and the contractor is to commence work immediately.”
In addition to the road infrastructure, the state government is also constructing a jetty at Ijede waterfront to create a hub for waterways transportation in the town in line with the state’s Integrated Transportation Master Plan.
Sanwo-Olu listed other projects currently being undertaken by the state government to include the rehabilitation of Bola Ahmed Tinubu Road in Igbogbo, upgrading of Agric- Ishawo Road, rehabilitation of Oba Sekumade Road, and on-going palliative works on inner roads.
The state government, Sanwo-Olu said, will be redesigning the Ikorodu Roundabout in the next phase of work, which is aimed at easing traffic congestion usually experienced around Ikorodu Garage. The governor disclosed that the contract for the roundabout’s improvement had been approved, stating that work would resume on the axis in the coming weeks.
He said: “We are elated that our people are reaping the full dividends of democracy in the quality of projects we are delivering. When we make a promise, we ensure that we keep our words. I am confident that through our citizens’ continued support, we will complete other projects started in Ikorodu.”
Sanwo-Olu personally handed over compensation cheques worth N500 million to 16 claimants at the event, including a popular veteran Yoruba actor, Babatunde Omidina, popularly known as Baba Suwe.
About 455 affected families, worship centres and businesses were listed for compensation to the tune of N2.206 billion in all places where the state government is executing infrastructure projects within Ikorodu.
The lawmaker representing Ijede in the Lagos State House of Assembly, Saka Solaja, conveyed the residents’ appreciation to the governor, whom he described as “Mr Efficiency.”
Ranodu of Imota, Oba Ajibade Agoro, said the governor had brought relief to commuters with the rehabilitation of the Ijede Road.
Chairman of Community Development Council (CDC), Mr Rotimi Ayoku-Owowlawi, hailed the governor for approving the construction of a jetty in Ijede to complement the road project.
The projects, he said, will improve the experience of the community members.