The journey from Maza-Maza Lagos to Lusada in Ado-Odo-Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State was not a pleasant experience for Daily Sun.
Recently, the Awori people located in the Agbara-Igbesa-Atan axis of Ogun State marched peacefully to the Lusada Market Square. There, they ventilated their grievances against the Ogun State government over the deplorable state of infrastructure in their communities.
Under the watch of a team of policemen, over 500 placard-bearing youths, elderly women and men and some traditional rulers lamented the agony they go through in their communities. They said they have long been denied basic necessities of life, including water, roads, electricity, and security.
“Our roads have become a death trap. We cannot have any smooth movement on the roads. A move from here to the next village, which is not supposed to be more than five minutes, takes between 30 and 40 minutes. A lot of vehicles have been falling intermittently on this road. Our police have not been able to do their work properly because, when they get distress calls, they cannot move freely. It appears there is a plan from government to skim us out of Ogun State,” lamented Otunba Adewunmi Durojaiye, Otunba of Igbesaland.
He expressed concern that there might be a deliberate scheme to force some of the companies in the axis to relocate to Sagamu or Abeokuta, the state capital.
The journey from Maza-Maza Lagos to Lusada in Ado-Odo-Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State was not a pleasant experience for Daily Sun. A journey that should have taken not more than 30 minutes lasted for about two hours. First, you had to contend with the traffic caused by the deplorable Lagos-Badagry Expressway. The Agbara Junction of the expressway up to Lusada was no better.
The 15-kilometre Agbara-Lusada road was so deplorable that the only means of transportation was a commercial motorcycle (okada). And a trip cost N400 for a very bumpy ride. Before long, one was totally covered with red dust, as 90 per cent of the road had lost its asphalt.
Comrade Jide Aina, president of Igbesa Youth Association, was not in a happy mood when he spoke with the reporter.
“What more pain does the government of the day need to inflict on us for us to be downgraded to this level? What I am saying is that Ogun State government has inflicted the greatest havoc on this community. How do you explain that over 75 per cent of Ogun’s internal revenue is generated from Igbesa alone, not to talk of other areas? From Agbara to Igbesa is only 11 kilometres and from Lusada here to Atan is four kilometres. How long does it take to fix a 15-kilometre road?
“In 2015, they came to Atan with one construction firm, and because road was one of the things we needed so urgently, we voted for them. But they abandoned the project after the election. The same thing happened at this Lusada junction.
“To take a truck from Apapa to Agbara costs about N300,000 but to take a truck from Agbara to this place is about N700,000. And truck owners are not willing to come because of the bad road here. As we talk now, they are developing an industrial hub in Sagamu with a 10-lane expressway.”
Companies located in the area have their tales of woe as well. The human resource manager of one of the companies, who pleaded that his name and company should not be mentioned, painted a picture of abandonment. He said the deplorable condition of the road has paralysed business and caused a lot of road accidents involving trucks carrying goods from factories in the axis.
“If you were here during the rainy season, you would have seen a number of trucks falling down, spilling their contents and causing more traffic.
“There was a time about three trailers fell at the same time, blocking the road. There was a time that this road was blocked for 48 hours, causing total obstruction of movement. There was no form of response or assistance from the state government. This is no exaggeration because the traffic stretched for about 10 kilometres, with mostly trailer-trucks. In fact, it was total collapse of traffic flow.
“When vehicles break down, Traffic Compliance Agency (TRACE) in Ogun State would tow the vehicles and fine the owners. But in the case of the one that lasted for 48 hours, government abandoned us to our fate. What they do is just arrest the driver and there would be no other response in terms of clearing the road.
“Now, security is compromised. You cannot get police intervention when you are in danger because of the deplorable condition of the road. Economic and commercial activities in this area are grounded. The only market here is folding up. People no longer come here from Ota, Sango and Lagos to buy mostly agricultural produce from Lusada Market. What used to be a big market attracting traders and buyers and sellers from three states has now been turned to a village market.
“This place is the industrial artery for Ogun State. In fact, apart from Lagos and Kano, the other area that has the largest concentration of factories in Nigeria is the Agbara-Atan-Sango axis. The Ogun State government is talking about attracting businesses from Lagos State to develop Ogun, yet it cannot make the environment conducive to existing industries.
“The companies around here pay all manner of taxes. In our company here we generate our own power and yet government will ask us to pay for surface tank that we use to store our diesel under what they call environment tax. For us, it would seem as if it is a deliberate policy to frustrate the companies here because I wouldn’t believe that government is not aware of the value they get from this area.
“About 10 kilometres down the Igbesa road is a free trade zone, a kind of conglomeration of Chinese industries, and all of them run on their own electricity. We barely get up to two hours’ electricity in a day. Most of these machines take a minimum of five hours to heat up each time they stop. So, if we place them on public power system and power goes off, it would take another five hours to heat up the machines, using your own generator. What we and most other companies do is to put the machines on generator permanently because you are sure your generator will run as long as you want it.
“Alternatively, we use industrial uninterruptible power supply (UPS). So, if there is power outage, the UPS would hold you for some minutes for your generator to come up. And the cost of the UPS is over N50 million. The UPS has about 88 batteries powering it and each battery costs between N30,000 and N100,000. So, it is quite expensive doing business around here.”
A few metres from the scene of the protest was an array of pillars for an overhead bridge under construction. But residents insisted that the money for the contract should have been used to rehabilitate the road, even as they said that the project had been abandoned.
Mr. Abogun Adegbori Opayemi, the coordinator of the protest, enunciated the catalogue of woes his people have been through for over 40 years. He pleaded that the Ogun State government should come to the people’s rescue without further delay.
“This road, to the best of my knowledge, was inaugurated between 1979 and 1983, but there has been no maintenance. In the last 40 years, no government has made any attempt to repair it. So, we decided to make this a warning protest for the whole world to know what we are passing through.
“Over 300 tax payers, mainly big companies in Nigeria, are found here. Yet government has done nothing to alleviate the suffering of the people caused by the terrible condition of the road. Between January and now, we have recorded over 29 deaths as a result of road accidents alone between Agbara and Atan. We want those in authority to save our people because we cannot continue like this.
“The only business that is thriving here now is okada. Before now, this market used to attract more than 5,000 people from neighbouring communities. But if you come here after today, you would hardly see up to 300 people. This is to show you the extent of damage this dilapidated road has done to our community’s economy.
“I have paid more than N600,000 in taxes, yet for more than a month now, I have been unable to use my car. And this is the dry season. Imagine what the experience would be during the rainy season. Between November 13 and 16, our children could not go to school because of flooding on the road.
“Our people are beginning to conclude that the non-rehabilitation of this road is deliberate. Maybe the state government wants to collapse the economy of Agbara-Igbesa industrial area. We are law-abiding, that is why we are doing this peaceful protest. But our people are becoming more agitated.”