By Seyi Bakare
As the ongoing reconstruction of Journalists’ Estate Road, Arepo, a satellite town in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area, gathers momentum, residents are already heaving a sigh of relief. The contractor has been working at a frenetic pace to meet the deadline for the completion of the 2.35km road, which has been slated for December. Contract for the reconstruction was signed in January this year by the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun. The contractor mobilised to site in April. The road, when completed, will be fully illuminated with streetlights, lay-bys and other exotic road furniture.
Drainage work has reached almost 80 per cent completion stage, while excavation has been going on simultaneously.
Commissioner for Works in Ogun State, Mr. Ade Akinsanya, said Governor Abiodun prioritised the road because when completed, it would provide relief for road users along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway axis that had faced difficult times navigating their ways to their homes, especially during the rainy season.
Akinsanya, who spoke when the reconstruction was flagged off, said: “This project is not going to be abandoned, because the contractor is fully funded. We are going to do everything humanly possible not to inconvenience the people but at the same time, we need to get the work done.
“This is a dualised road with median andstreet lights. The water will be channelled to the proper location and into the canal. Also, along the way, there will be a lay-by for transporters. The drain would be covered to serve as a walkway.”
Arepo residents have gone through harrowing experiences navigating this road for more than ten years, especially during the rainy season. But for the palliative measures being carried out every year by residents before this intervention, the road would have become impassable. Arepo is a fast developing town on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. It is being referred to as the GRA on the axis with beautiful structures and exotic cars. It rivals Magodo and Isheri, while also playing host to Journalists’ Estate, Phase 1 and 2, among other communities.
Meanwhile, many residents have had to relocate temporarily to Lagos as a result of the bad road as well as the harrowing experience on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
Former Governor Gbenga Daniel tarred the road during his tenure. But it went bad shortly after due to lack of drainage. Since then, residents have had to contend with the terrible state of the road.
Daniel’s successor, Ibikunle Amosun raised the hopes of residents by awarding the road project to First August construction firm in November 2012 under Contract 11, with a signpost conspicuously erected at the Journalists’ Estate Phase 1 gate. Upon the award of the contract to First August, Arepo indigenes thought their age-old suffering in the community over the decrepit road had ended. But many were left disappointed as the then administration showed no interest in starting work on the project.
Repeated visits and calls to officials of the state government in Abeokuta did not yield any results. In 2015, Governor Amosun came to the community to seek re-election and was told that the road was the top priority because of the pains associated with commuting on it, but nothing was done. Top editors and seasoned journalists residing at the Journalists Estate, a high-brow elite community in Arepo who made several visitations to Governor Amosun had no good experience to share.
A highly respected senior editor who made the last visit got the most troubling treatment. He was allegedly snubbed while even as the governor him led his convoy out of the Governor’s Office on an official assignment.
The attitude of the former administration forced the Arepo Central Community Development Association (ACCDA) to embark on self-help efforts to knock the road back to shape and save the huge investment in the community, which runs into billions of naira.
Individuals, estates and corporate concerns were urged to donate generously towards the rehabilitation of the road. At the time the government took over the project, ACCDA had reportedly committed N18 million, cumulatively, on the project, with the main entrance gulping N8 million. Now, residents are happy that the job is being done by Governor Abiodun, Bosun Oluwabusayomi, a resicdent stated.
“You can see the quality of work being done here at Arepo by Governor Abiodun. This is a quality job. The concrete drainage is the best you can get anywhere. “The governor is a man of quality. Some of his roads and other projects will stand the test of time,” he said.
•Bakare contributes this piece through [email protected]