Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” So says the psalmist in the Holy Bible.
But in Ado-Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti State, the reverse is the case. Those who commute on the Ado-Iyin-Igede Road are very scared of a particular gully along that route, which many claim is a valley of death and endless tragedies.
The valley is at Akannasan Junction, Odo-Oro, a community on the outskirts of the capital, along Iyin Road, Ado-Ekiti.
The Akannasan Junction is a sharp bend on that road, not far from the valley. The gully has been there for as long as anyone could remember and has been a death trap for unsuspecting motorists and commuters. The sharp bend has always been a challenge for motorists, as navigating the bend where it is located, has, on many occasions, resulted in brake failure, causing havoc. Sometimes, motorists whose vehicles are on top speed lose control of such vehicles. The immediate consequence is that the vehicles and their occupants would plunge into the deep valley. And since the valley is so deep, they might never be found again, alive or dead.
Some have had their bodies dismembered, while some few others have narrowly escaped death after falling into the massive gully.
Residents of the area told the reporter that as many as 25 trucks and trailers could plunge into the valley, and no one would suspect anything, as the gully is too deep and wide.
The valley has caused many families unforgettable pain and grief. It has swallowed many lives and property. And residents are wondering why successive governments have failed to protect citizens from the open danger.
Residents and drivers who have witnessed the tragedy in the axis recently recounted several tales of woes associated with the evil valley in an investigative effort by Daily Sun.
Mr. Gbodi Michael, a resident of Odo-Oro, the nearest community to Akannasan Junction, lamented the rate at which accidents have been happening at the spot, adding that the situation gets worse during the rainy season.
“I have been living in this community for more than 30 years,” he said. “Hundreds of vehicles have had accidents here with most of them leading to deaths and others leaving the bodies of victims dismembered. Several trucks have had serious accidents there.
“The road breakers are not effective in preventing the accidents. Whenever there is a heavy rain, accidents in that area become more often as the floodwater would present people from noticing the gulf. We appeal to the government to fill up the deep hole so that vehicles would no longer plunge there.”
Mr Alabi Sule, another resident near the valley, claimed the community had on several occasions assisted many victims at scenes of accidents in the axis.
“Many accident victims have sought help from us. We have on several occasions had to assist many victims of accidents by using axes to break the vehicles in order to rescue them. The number of death has gone out of hand. The valley, which has become the grave of many innocent people, is not a good story that anyone would love to tell.
“What we think had made government to neglect the place is because it has been only ordinary people that have been falling accident victims there. Had it been that any top government personalities had been involved in the incessant accidents there, I think government would have done something to correct the problem. I beg the Federal Government to intervene speedily as we are one Nigeria.”
Otunba Olanbiwoninu Joseph Rotimi, who doubles as the Chairman of Road Transportation Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Ekiti State and Senior Special Assistant to Governor Fayemi on Transportation, expressed sadness over the valley, saying it has cut short many destinies.
His words: “That valley in Akannasan, along Iyin Road, has been there for very many years. It has taken so many lives that we have lost count of and has also damaged many vehicles beyond repairs. All of this is because of the recurrent accidents on that corner. There are so many people whose families would think were kidnapped. Unknown to them, they have died in that valley. The issue is, looking at the place from a distance, no one will know there is a valley there until one gets closer and motorists, from brake failures, loss of control or difficulties in negotiating the bend head straight into that valley and on most occasions end their lives there with their vehicles.
“We appeal to our government, if there is anything they can do to help us drivers, as the place has become a death trap. Maybe government can help construct some railings or anything to help avert regular death there.”
Michael Bolade Ojo, one of the commercial drivers who traverse the road from Ado-Aramoko to Ilesa-Osogbo- Ife, Osun State on a daily basis, described the valley as a death sentence.
“As a driver of over 40 years, that sharp corner is a very dangerous one since I have been plying that road. That valley in particular is a death sentence that has swallowed countless number of lives. Trailers, cars and motorcycles from brake failures cannot be counted. I have witnessed so many gory and fatal scenes from accidents on this road. There was a time the whereabouts of a man who was selling chicks could not be traced. After three months, his body started decomposing and the stench had saturated the environment. That was what triggered farmers around who decided to trace what had been causing the stench. They found out that it was the chick seller that had died there. The chicks that he was carrying on his motorcycle to sell had fed on his decaying body and had grown big. We deduced he had died from an accident as his motorcycle was also seen in the valley.
“We appeal to the government to expand that road, particularly, that killer portion. We know that the state government is constructing a new road from Ado to Iyin-Ekiti, but still the Akannasan Road is the one linking Ado-Ekiti for now. We therefore appeal to the Federal Government to reconstruct the road so as not to claim more lives.”
Mr Babatunde Michael, a driver who plies Ado to Lagos, said he always experiences fear whenever he gets to the sharp corner.
“Akannasan is a very dangerous sharp corner that had resulted in many deaths and caused a lot of problems for most families who will be in the dark as to the whereabouts of their loved ones. Some accidents had happened there that nobody knew about. This usually happened when there is no motorist behind a moving vehicle. But in the case where there is a vehicle behind you, he would see what is happening in front. There was a time when one of our buses entered into the valley, it got scattered, leaving the driver and passengers dead. It is really a killer valley. I appeal to the government to divert that road. I know the state government is reconstructing another road to link Iyin-Ekiti. However, that road is still very useful for us. All we need the government to do is to divert a bit from the sharp corner,” he said.
The reporter sought to know government’s plans for the road. She spoke with the state Commissioner for Information and Values Orientation, Aare Muyiwa Olumilua who offered some advice to motorists.
His words: “Well, as regards that Akannasan Road, the road has been like that forever. The major reason the road is winding like that is because of the hilly landscape. That was why they could not build a straight road. It had to wind round the hilly topography.
“Also, the road is a federal road. It is not the state government road and one of the major things we are doing to help that situation is that we are building a new Iyin Road, so, people have the option to either go through the new Iyin Road which is a straight road and one of the best in the state or go through Akannasan. The reasons people keep getting hurt and recording fatalities are the windy nature of the road, which is the major problem, and also because a lot of people approach that road without exercising patience. Some people don’t even know the road well. If you drive fast into a bend, there is the likelihood that your car will lose control. That is why the state government has put speed breakers on that road to reduce speed. The state government has done what it can do within its own limitation.
“We cannot reconstruct that road because of the topography. Also, it is a federal road; we have no right to touch it. But all the same, we have been trying our best to make sure the road does not record more fatalities. Also, there are policemen and some checkpoints on that road too. These act as speed hampering process, because when you see policemen, you will want to slow down. All these measures are to reduce the speed of motorists on that road. But unfortunately, some people still end up getting hurt because they refuse to exercise patience when plying the road.”