Job Osazuwa and Adebowale Johnson
Ogun State’s slogan is ‘Gateway State.’ The South-West state picked the moniker by virtue of its strategic location. It borders many states in the South-West and parts of Benin Republic.
But residents of the state are not happy with the state of roads. Residents of Ifo Local Government Area (LGA), for instance, are saying that many of the major roads in the area have become totally deplorable. They insist that their communities have suffered many decades of total abandonment by successive governments at the federal and state levels.
In and out of the rainy season, it has been years of tears, sorrow and pain, particularly on the Agbado-Ijoko Road. Lives have been dispatched to the world beyond owing to the gullies that have, over the years, dotted most parts of the busy road.
On October 3, a motorcycle rider lost his life in a multiple accident at Jafa. It was gathered that the rider was trying to manoeuvre past a bad portion and at the same time avoid an oncoming tipper, unaware that there was a tricycle that was also jostling for the tiny path. They all collided and he died on the spot. Many passersby betrayed emotions and wailed uncontrollably, while others could not look twice at the lifeless body with a smashed head.
The motorcycle rider’s death was one of the many residents of the area, as well as visitors, that have been maimed and killed, leaving others with indelible scars.
Residents of Agbado Crossing, Oke Aro down to Ijoko and Sango area are living with the double trouble of the bad roads that daily have the traffic crawling at a snail’s pace, and the menace of men of the underworld that terrorise them daily.
People of the area have protested in the past, calling on the authorities to come to their aid. Their cries have been to no avail and their afflictions continue unabated.
For the vast communities in Ifo LGA, good roads are a dream yet to be actualised for the residents. As learnt, different administrations in the state in the last 20 years have neglected this critical infrastructure, causing unending agony for the people.
These Ogun communities, which include Ijoko Ogba-Ayo, Lemode, Agbado Station, Alagbole, Itoki, Jafa, Ope-Ilu, Oke-Aro, Matogun, Lambe, Akute, Denro Ishasi, Ojodu-Abiodun and many more, are home to unimaginable dilapidated roads that have made the local government a shadow of what immediate towns bordering boisterous Lagos State should look like in terms of economic activities and standard of living.
When the administration of then Governor Ibikunle Amosun commenced a 32-kilometre road that would link Sango with Berger in Lagos, everyone in the communities applauded the initiative. However, years after the flag-off of the job, the project has been abandoned.
Daily Sun gathered that the abandoned road construction and expansion project was conceived in the first term of the immediate past administration. It was scheduled to start from Sango, running through Ijoko, Agbado Station. Oke-Aro, Giwa, Lambe, Alagbole to Ojodu Berger. But today, the road is in a terrible condition, requiring urgent attention.
The challenges occasioned by the deplorable condition of roads in these communities are enormous, and the hardship faced by the residents on a daily basis is pathetic. The decay has been a source of anguish and frustration.
The situation becomes worse during the rainy season because of the swampy soil, making the road impassable for motorists and pedestrians alike. The alternative inner streets, which are not tarred, have also become messy from the impact of the number and size of vehicles plying them.
Residents of these communities have called on Governor Dapo Abiodun to come to their rescue by completing the road or providing palliatives to make it motorable.
A community leader in the area, Prince Ademiluyi Onileere, lamented the unending hardship occasioned by the absence of good roads in his community. He said moving in and out of the area on a daily basis has become an unwarranted punishment.
While calling on Ogun State government to quickly attend to the abandoned road project, he bemoaned the serious threat it poses to the residents’ security and health.
“The road project started by the last administration is important; it’s shorter and serves as an escape route from the daily traffic on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway. But the dilapidated nature of the roads is not good for anybody’s health. In the case of any emergency, the bad road network makes it difficult to have access to health care facilities on time,” he said.
However, Onileere disagreed with the claims that poor revenue from these communities was a reason for government’s neglect. He explained: “Better taxes would be generated for Ogun from these sprawling communities, if the appropriate amenities, especially good roads, are in place, considering its proximity to Lagos. Good roads would definitely open up big business such as banks, small, medium and large-scale trades, as seen in Lagos, and the government in turn would have a lot of taxes and levies to collect.
“Lagos is already congested, the next environment now is Ogun, and the closest are border communities. So, it is only fair that the current government avails these gateway communities the opportunity to grow by making good road network available.
“I want the government to address the hardship we are facing in these communities. I want our governor to get first-hand reports of the true condition of these roads, instead of depending on the feedback solely from politicians from these communities. These politicians have long been here before him, and nothing good has come from them,” he said.
Investigations revealed that the state of roads in these border communities has made some residents abandon their properties to seek refuge in nearby Lagos towns, while some families have devised a way of returning home only at the weekend. The majority of the residents enduring this hardship daily pay a fortune for transportation to and fro.
A landlord in the area, Mr. Oladejo Taiwo, complained that, during the rainy season, the transportation cost increases beyond measure, even when it is not certain that residents would get to their destinations due to frequent vehicle breakdown caused by flood on the roads.
“Those people that take the risk of bringing their vehicles home do so with little hope of reaching their destinations. The commercial vehicles plying the roads are regular visitors to mechanic workshops,” he said.
Another worried landlord, a grand patron in one of the community development committees (CDCs) in the affected area, Prince Funso Adewodun, who lives at Sharp Corner/Itoki area, stated that tenants and landlords have been moving out of the area in droves due to the collapsed roads.
“We are living here as if we don’t have a government. Our roads are in a pathetic situation. The potholes are eyesores. Things must not continue like this.
“We are appealing to the government to help us. We pay our taxes and levies. During elections, we come out en masse to vote but, in return, we are left with nothing, except suffering,” Adewodun said.
Mr. Babatunde Yeribo, who is a community leader and a landlord in one of the communities, also perturbed by the situation, reiterated that government should support the efforts of the residents towards fixing the roads.
He said: “The present governor was here before the election and he had an agreement with us to fix the road. We are still waiting for him to fulfil that agreement. Our representative in the House of Assembly also made promises concerning the roads.
“Anytime it rains, there is a blockage of the roads by rainwater. We use streets as alternative roads, but the streets are now in terrible shape. Previous administrations only erected bridges and nothing was done about the roads.
“The only thing that was done for these towns in the eight years of the last administration was the bridge at Agbado Crossing, which was not even completed. We want the governor to fix the roads, which would in turn bring better socio-economic capacity to the communities. We believe that, if this is done, a lot of revenue will be generated from these communities.”