By AbuSatar Hamed
AKOKO: It has become an admitted fact that the level of economic development in any society directly depends on the development of its infrastructure.
Because of its relevance for the development of other sectors of the economy, robust infrastructure though does not directly produce goods and services, experts believe that its role in facilitating primary, secondary and tertiary economic activities by creating positive external economies cannot be overemphasized.
Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, who realised the crucial role of solid infrastructure in engedering social and economic development, vowed during his pre-election campaign, the determination of his administration to connect the three senatorial districts with standard road networks.
In fulfilment of the campaign promise, not a few graders, bulldozers and other earth-moving equipment of various sizes have been mobilised by the governor to construct roads in order to link all the 18 local government areas of the state.
The arrival of bulldozers and graders at the 29-kilometre Oke-Agbe-Irun-Afin-Ese-Ogbagi road in Akoko North-West Local Government Area in the Northern Senatorial District of the state recently has given credence to a belief that life may have just begun anew in the affected communities. Governor Akeredolu administration has finally brought an end to the more than one decade suffering of the people occasioned by lack of motorable roads.
And expectedly, the people are ecstatic that, after years of neglect by successive administrations, the governor is hearkening to their request for a road linking all the communities together.
From Oke-Agbe, the headquarter of the local government area, to Irun, Ogbagi and others, the people have rolled out the drums to celebrate what they have tagged an end to years of suffering. Both the old and young, men and women are all united in their chorus of praises to the governor.
For several years, the people of the mostly agrarian communities, the major challenge over the years has been lack of roads from one community to the other.
Traditional rulers in Akoko North-West local government area, including the Owa of Ogbagi, Zaki of Arigidi, Eleriti of Eriti and Olubaram of Ibaram, said the state government’s decision to construct the road would end “an era of backwardness’ and “give hope of new life” in the affected communities.
A community leader in Oke-Agbe Akoko, Alhaji Lateef Ibrahim, and Mr. Babatunde Ajayi from Ogbagi recalled the terrible state of the road. According to them, the sorry state of the road has done incalculable damage to the economic life and activities of the locals.
The community leaders said the locals, who are mostly peasant farmers and traders, have lost farm products and goods worth several millions of Naira due to the poor state of the road.
With the mobilisation of equipment now, Alhajit Ibrahim is optimistic that the construction of the road will guarantee economic growth and alleviation of poverty.
The state Commissioner for Works, Hon. Saka Yusuf Ogunleye, said the deplorable road would be constructed to meet global standard, saying, “Our road construction is not going to be limited to highways alone. Township roads will also be fixed, as the department handling such matters will take care of failed portions and potholes within the towns.
“Akoko is a strategic part of the state, which deserves good roads as other areas. Our road infrastructure programme covers the entire state. No area will be left untouched.”
Also, residents of Oda town, Ilekun, Emiloro and other neighbouring communities in Akure South Local Government Area in the Central Senatorial District of Ondo State on Monday, August 15, 2019, woke up to the reality that their long dream of having access to good road is after all achievable.
For years, the people of the communities have longed for a good road that would lead to drastic reduction in the auto crashes and decrease in the delayed in travel time that have become daily occurrences on the ever-busy Akure-Oda Road.
Besides the poor state of the road that the residents, especially accident victims, have named death trap, the communities also shared many things in common. First, they are fastly-growing communities because intending landlords now prefer to own houses of various types thus sporadically increasing the population of the communities.
Secondly, the communities have the potential to expand fastly because of their vast and plain land. Public institutions such as Ondo State Law Commission office, Ondo State College of Health Technology, the state chapter of the National Union of Teachers Guest House, the Federal Government Silos, the Federal Government Library, and the Akure South office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, among others, were established along the major road that link the communities.
Also, not a few hundreds of the Federal and the Ondo State public servants prefer to reside in the communities because of the peace and serenity of the environment. Above all, like the people destined to suffer together, the residents of the communities have one or two devastating stories to tell over the poor state of the long road.
“Accidents involving cars, motorcycles and sometimes lorries usually happening on the busy Akure-Oda Road. We cannot deny the fact the poor state of the road contributed significantly to the crashes. The road is terribly bad.
“Aside the frequent crashes occurring on the road which sometimes resulted in loss of lives, the recent burglary that occurred in one of the neighbouring communities can be attributed to the poor state of the road. The summary of it all is that the road has caused a lot of damage to many families in Oda and its environs.
The Regent of Oda, Princess Adeyinka Akosile said, “But our long time prayers for God’s intervention have been answered. The last week’s flag-off of the construction of the road by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu is the real answer we have been waiting for. We in Oda and the neighbouring communities can confidently say that our long suffering would evaporate and there would be drastic reduction in auto crashes in a matter of few months after the completion of the road.
He also sought the support of every interest group in Ondo State for Akeredolu’s administration.
The joy of Mr. Abiodun Akingbayi, a resident of Ilekun, one of the benefitting communities, knew no bounds when Governor Akeredolu flagged-off the construction of the road. Akingbayi, who is a commercial driver, hoped that the construction of the ever-busy road would reduce cost of car maintenance by car owners.
“I have been plying the Akure-Oda Road for the past 15 years. The 15 years can best be described as agonising because of the heavy traffic that is always building up on the dilapidated road. The constant breakdown of vehicles plying this road and crashes involving the road users are the nasty experiences we wish never happened. In short, there is no time of the day that one would not find one or two ghastly accidents occurring on the road,”Akingbayi said.
He also attributed the pressure on the poor road to the fast rise in the population of Oda town and its neighbours.
He said: “There have been increase in the population of the people living in all the communities. The increase may have been brought about by the relative peace that we are enjoying here. We observed that intending landlords prefer this axis of Akure South Local Government Area to build their houses and as a result contributed to the rise in the population. So, one cannot dismiss the belief that the construction of this ever-busy road would alleviate the suffering of the people living and working in this area.”
Forty-two-year-old Julius Ajewole nearly jumped out of his skin with excitement when the news broke that Governor Akeredolu has led members of the state executive council to flag-off the construction of the road. Ajewole is one of the accident victims on the road. He vividly recalled the day he, alongside five other commuters, were involved in an auto crash on the road. He has yet to completely recover the trauma and the physical injuries he sustained from the crash.
“Though none of the occupants of the bus we boarded that fateful day died, all of us were seriously injured,” Ajewole said, dismissing the insinuation that the accident was caused by excessive speed.
He said: “We never envisaged that we would be involved in a crash that day because our driver did not engage in reckless driving that day. But suddenly, the vehicle fell into a deep gutter and thereby injuring the occupants while attempting to avoid head-on collision with the oncoming car whose driver had lost its control.”
But the long suffering of the residents caused by the dilapidated state of the popular Akure-Oda Road now seems to become a thing of the past, as Governor Akeredolu on Thursday, August 15, 2019, flagged off the construction of the 8.0km dual carriageway.
The governor described the construction of the road as another opportunity to demonstrate the commitment of his administration to the change mantra of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) designed to ensure the general welfare of the people and bring the benefits of good governance to their doorsteps.
Governor Akeredolu said his administration was not unaware of the enormous discomfort being experienced by the people as they traverse through the road, especially the residents of Oda-town, including the estates situated within the road corridor.
Akeredolu, while addressing the mammoth crowd at the flag-off ceremony, said he was aware of the nasty experience the people faced daily on the road and his administration was prepared to bring the discomfort to a thing of the past by delivering “a new asset, a new lifestyle and a new era of property appreciation and bequeathing an enduring legacy to the incoming generation.”
He said: “But it does not end here, it is only a precursor to an unending positive multiplier effects on the economy and social life of the people.
“While the road is being constructed, we will have more than a sizeable number of our people working and earning their living on a daily basis, and by the time you factor in those who supply construction materials, you can imagine the multiplier effect of this project and of course, the advantages it portends to the people, such as decrease in travel time, increase in the lifespan of vehicles, increased interconnectivity with other roads, such as the Oba Osupa-Hospital-Ijoka Road via Ijigba Road.”
To the admiration of the crowd that gathered to witness the flag-off ceremony, the 8.0km road was designed to consist the following features: 2.7km dual carriageway and 5.3km single carriageway and would have standard facilities such as 1.5m walkway on both sides, 1m width median fitted with street light, 600mm x 750mm drains, 200mm lateritic sub-base course, 200mm stone base course, 50mm asphaltic binder course, 40mm asphaltic wearing course, among others.
Stakeholders, including the Deji of Akure Kingdom, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi; the Regent of Oda, Princess Adeyinka Akosile; the Bishop of Akure Anglican Diocese, represented by Venerable Emmanuel Akosile; the Chief Imam of Akure, Alhaji Abdul Hakeem Yayi-Akorede, applauded the intervention on the road to engender the development of other sectors of the state economy. The stakeholders confirmed in their evaluation of Akeredolu’s performance since he assumed office that the governor “is providing succour for the troubled and giving hope to the hopeless.”
Imagining the rise in the standard of the lives of the residents of the benefitting communities and the improve in the businesses within the environment after the completion of the road, Oba Aladelusi particularly nick-named Governor Akeredolu “Mr. Road” “Mr. Infrastructure.’
The monarch said: ‘From my own point of view, our governor has earned the title of Road Maker. The road construction work being done in Akure is massive. It is as if we have never had a government in place. He is touching everywhere, not only in Akure but other towns across the state.”
The monarch, who said he was not bothered by a few people’s criticism over his closeness to the governor, added: “It would amount to inviting the wrath of God if I fail to associate with this government that is turning the fortune Akure Kingdom around. Mr. Governor on behalf of the Deji in Council and Akure speaking people, I as thank you. We cannot thank you enough.”
Chief Imam Yayi-Akorede said: “Our governor is demonstrating to us that he is a messenger of God. He preaches this gospel through quality road construction. This is a service delivery for all road users, from pedestrians, motorcycle users to motorists. In fact, I name the governor “Mr. Talk-and-Do.’ The Chief Imam, who was overwhelmed by the relief and succour that would accompany the completion of the facility, said: “Akeredolu is the truth that came to destroy the household of falsehood in Ondo State.
“He is ever to listen; our people should not hesitate to approach him to offer useful advice.”
Regent Akosile and Iyaloja of Oda town, Chief Orente Ojo, forsee improved in the life of the locals, especially, farmers and traders whose businesses and sources of livelihood would be positively impacted by the road project. They were in agreement that the improvement in the standard of the living of the locals would make the road construction an “historic and impactful one.”
To the Bishop of Akure Anglican Diocese, the decision to build the road is “a pleasant surprise to everyone and an initiative worth applauding.”
The Oda town youth leader, Mr. Ayodele Julius Obareke, promised maximum support for the contractor handling the project to enable the state government to deliver it in record time.
He said: “We have been agitating for the government’s attention over the road for a long time. Now that we sure of getting our challenge in the area of good road addressed, nothing will stop youths from Oda and its neighbouring communities from supporting the government and the contractor.”
Two experts fascinated by the road construction projects across the state tasked the government and the contractors handling them to ensure that the execution of the projects have minimal effect on the free-flow of traffic. They asked them to work out effective traffic management strategies to achieve minimal difficult in traffic management.
A Civil Engineer, Mr. Fasore Sayo, and a Quantity Surveyor, Mr. Rotimi Ajetomobi, saluted the governor’s courage to “remember the benefitting communities” but urged the government to “equally summon enough courage to from the inception of the construction to ensure its completion.”
Fasore urged maximum supervision of the project execution and robust reporting channel on the progress, challenges, how the challenges were resolved or how to resolve them.
He said: “The state government should encourage the host communities to cooperate with the contractor.”
The civil engineer also urged the contractor to adhere strictly to the job specifications.
“The construction company should also carry leaders of the host communities along in the course of the project execution,” Fasore added.
Ajetomobi urged deployment of necessary equipment on the part of the contractor for the delivery of the project on record time.
He said: “Nonwithstanding supervision by the client, the contractor should mobilise his equipment and workforce to be up and doing.”