By Job Osazuwa
Most drivers plying the Sango-Ota-Owode-Idiroko road in Ogun State are frustrated and in endless lamentation. Reason is that a better part of the federal road in the axis is in complete disrepair.
For years, motorists and commuters in the axis have endured hardship, pain and frustration. Many lives have been lost in perennial accidents on the collapsed road. Nearly every portion of the road is dotted with potholes and craters that have over the years turned into death traps for hapless road users.
Although the road still remains very busy, the ugly development has created serious hardship for the people, and gravely affected socio-economic activities in the entire area.
The residents, under different umbrellas, have staged protests calling on the federal and state governments to come to their rescue, all seemingly to no avail. For many motorists and commuters, plying the route has continued to constitute an unwanted visa to hell.
For instance, last year, lawyers, under the aegis of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ota branch, abandoned the courtroom and marched for hours against the deplorable condition of the road. The placard-carrying lawyers expressed their displeasure that the poor state of the road has led to loss of lives and caused injuries to commuters.
Concerned residents of the area have asked Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State to declare a state of emergency on the dilapidated Sango-Ota-Owode-Idiroko and Atan-Agbara roads.
The major road serves Nigerians who are accessing West African countries such as Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana, among others. It is the only road that also connects Sango and Tollgate residents to one of the biggest industrial hubs in this country, Agbara Industrial Estate. But the international route has been in a shambles for about a decade.
Though there have been intermittent skeletal palliative measures on the road by the Ogun State government and other groups, the problem has persisted. The heavy stones used in filling gullies in the road have punctured vehicles’ tyres, especially cars.
It was learnt that hoodlums and other men of the underworld also capitalise on the recurrent gridlock between Oju-Ore and Obasanjo bus stops to rob motorists and commuters of their belongings. Many victims have lost their vehicles at those dangerous spots. There are also reports of sexual molestation of womenfolk.
It is no exaggeration that the lifespan of vehicles plying the route has been drastically reduced. Private and commercial vehicle owners are condemned to making regular visits to the mechanic workshop to fix one or two faults on their vehicles due to the bad roads.
The aggrieved residents have described the road as an embarrassment not just to the people in Ogun but to the entire country. The sorry state of the road is more evident in Ado-Odo Ota Local Government Area (LGA) of the state, where there is high concentration of industries.
A commercial driver, Simon Ude, who said that he has been plying Sango-Owode for 14 years, fumed: “Our government is wicked. Why can’t they fix the bad road once and for all? Please, you journalists should help us talk to them to come and perform their duties.
“They only do more infrastructural works in Abeokuta, the capital city, forgetting that there are people in this part of the state. It is not fair.”
A community leader in Ota, Alhaji Ajagun Waheed, told the reporter: “We have accepted our fate. The place is manageable during the dry season. When the rainy season comes, another round of anguish begins. The government has decided to deliberately punish us for reasons that I cannot really explain.
“The state government is quick to say that the road belongs to the Federal Government. But the state collects taxes and levies from the people that are living here. The people in this area voted for the governor. It is disheartening that the road could be left in this deplorable state.
“I cannot remember how many letters my own community has written to both federal and state governments. We have begged and threatened them to repair the failed sections. Yet it has been different stories.”
Mr. Hassan Ibrahim, who resides in Iyana-Iyesi, complained that commuters were always at the receiving end of the suffering on the road.
“From Tollgate to Atan used to be N150, but we now pay N250 and sometimes N300 as a result of the bad road. When we complain, the commercial drivers will say that the road is in a deplorable state, which is also a fact.
“We are begging whoever can help us to quickly come and fix it. We have suffered so much loss on this road. It will not cost the government so much to repair the bad portions. But the government just abandoned us to our nightmare.
“The problems on the road are too much to bear by normal human beings. Most times, trailers coming from Apapa Port carrying consumable goods are involved in accidents and the subsequent delays might cause the goods to expire,” Ibrahim said.
Regular users of the road would agree that from Sango-Under Bridge, Oju-Ore, Iganmode Grammar School, General Hospital, Ota, and a stretch at the Owode-Yewa axis, among others, the road is in has collapsed. Commuters and motorists have loads of harrowing experiences to share. Many people journeying through the route have tagged the experience as riding in tears.
It was gathered that, when it rains, the residents’ problems are compounded. On such bad days, flood takes over the road in front of Iganmode Grammar School for hours. Commuters are left stranded as most commercial drivers park their vehicles somewhere waiting for the flood to subside.
Another worrisome feature of the route is driving against the traffic in order to escape the failed portions. The drivers do it with recklessness, jettisoning the attendant consequences. As a result, many pedestrians have been knocked down by speeding vehicles.
As witnessed by the reporter, commercial motorcycle riders appear to be more reckless and are often involved in ghastly accidents. There have also been times when containers from trucks fell on smaller vehicles and killed the passengers inside the vehicles.
Commuters who ply Atan-Agbara Road in Agbara-Igbesa Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of the state, as well as residents of the area, are also lamenting that their major road has been abandoned for too long. Everyone using the road is groaning in pain.
The entire stretch of the about 25 kilometres road is in need of urgent intervention. Right from Atan, Akinwunmi Bus Stop, through Lusada, Igbesa, Doyin, down to Agbara, some of the gullies dotting the road are deep enough to swallow up small cars.
It was gathered that many companies that were hitherto flourishing have packed up and relocated to other parts of the state and the country.
A businessman who deals in fairly-used leather bags at Lusada Bus Stop, Mr. Eberechukwu Okoro, told Daily Sun: “I have been living here since 2000. Until about six or seven years ago, we used to enjoy moving from one end of the road to another. Then it didn’t take anyone more than 10 or 15 minutes to drive from Agbara to Atan and vice versa. But, today, it is a different story.
“We were rejoicing 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 the election is won, they will abandon us.”
The affected routes play host to over 100 industries manufacturing various consumer goods distributed across the country. Notable industries in the axis include Intercontinental Distillers Limited, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Unilever, Nestle Plc, Beloxxi Group, Procter & Gamble, Sunsteel Industries Ltd, Cometstar Manufacturing Company Ltd, GZ Industries, Drury Industries Limited, Dufil Prima Foods and Honda Training Centre, among others.