Sunday Magazine

Agonies on Ogun communities bad roads

For a number of residents in Ogun State, especially along the boundary communities, plying roads in the Gateway State only yields bad experiences. In this report, LADESOPE LADELOKUN, writes on the pains and frustration triggered by deplorable state of Ogun roads

 

From their horrible roads, broken infrastructure and near absence of government presence, many communities in Ogun State are almost living in the Stone Age, devoid of modern amenities. To a large extent, they depend on one another for the little evidence of modernity and development they enjoy.

Although, the state government has a Ministry of Community Development and Cooperatives, and annual budgets for infrastructural development, many of the communities in the state are in the dark, begging for government’s attention.

In most cases, the communities have been left to themselves, almost entirely. A community leader said that the establishment of the Ministry and the entire philosophy behind it seems to be a sham and scam.

The Ogun State government, by virtue of the Ogun State Community Development Programme Law of 2013, gave legal basis for the establishment and running of Community Development Associations, Community Development Committees, Zonal and State Community Development Committees. It also has the motto ‘Self Help, Best Help:’

Although this has the potency to identify and develop the communities through collaboration with the state, there is a gradual descent into infrastructural neglect and a kind of situation where the state abdicates its responsibilities.

“In my community, there is no government presence,” said an Area Community Development Committee Chairman.

“We grade our roads, usually by renting graders from our own local government for about N100,000 daily. In the last 12 years, we have bought and installed 10 transformers through self-help. Each landlord paid N60,000 each.

“Save for few interventions from some corporate organisations as part of their Corporate Social Responsibilities, everything we do, including hiring of security operatives from So-Safe, recommended by the state government at about N40,000 per guard monthly. To worsen matters, the Ogun State Ministry of Trade appoints contractors into many communities to collect revenue from tippers, dredgers and other articulated vehicles.”

Engr. Raheem Ajisafe, a former Financial Secretary, Obafemi Owode Zonal CDC, said bad roads and drainages too have been daily problems of many Communities in the state.

 

“Many communities have been financing projects themselves, without any help from the government. Fund raising from the communities have always been the only means to get funds to finance projects. There are no link roads to Lagos around Mowe- Magboro axis whenever there is a problem on the expressway.”

Another CDA representative, Mr. M.O. Adenekan, and an Area CDC Chairman, Ajose, spoke about the impact of the underdevelopment on the people’s quality of life, income and state government’s readiness to cater for their needs in terms of providing some social amenities.

In the Ibafo area, Ajose lamented that the government has failed in terms of making life bearable for the people in the area, believing that government is not particularly concerned about the community. Rather, they are more engrossed in how to generate funds, thereby eroding peoples’ interest in government policies.

Prince Adesina Olukoga, Magboro Area CDC Chairman, spoke about a project which former Governor Ibikunle Amosun started but was unable to finish and this has become an abandoned project in the area.

“Several letters have been written to the Commissioner of Works, and the Office of the Governor to come to our rescue and finish this project but the state’s response to these needs has been too poor, especially in Magboro.”

When reminded that the state government gave some grants, ranging from N1 million to N5 million to some CDCs in the state at a Community Day held by Governor Dapo Abiodun recently, the Chairman, Adesan CDC, said that many stakeholders were not involved.

“We heard that they gave some CDC grants. What were the yardsticks for giving these grants? Many of us submitted a list of ongoing projects like school projects; we wanted the government to help us so that we can finish these projects.”

 

Sources said that on Tuesday, December 6, the Ogun State Commissioner for Community Development and Cooperatives, Abayomi Hunye, held a meeting with over 400 CDC Chairmen across the state at Oke Mosan, Abeokuta, but he was almost snubbed by the delegates.

Among other things, he drew the ire of the CDC chairmen by announcing the cancellation of CDC N100,000 annual Administrative Grant and introduction of N60,900 ( totaling N25 million) to all 415 CDCs, without consultation with the community leaders.

“He announced that henceforth, the state’s  Advanced Leadership Training would cost each CDC executive N30,000, while CDC must also pay annual revalidation fee of N10,000, and CDA N5,000. That there would be grants in aid for community projects to be monitored by the Ministry.

“That there would be no compensation for projects executed by CDCs, and to qualify for a N60,900 annual grant, each CDC must send an executive to the leadership training school at the cost of N30,000.” The announcement further infuriated the community leaders, who staged a walkout on the commissioner.

They were, however, pacified to return.

Cries from Giwa Okearo, Matogun

At Hercules bus stop in the Oke Aro area of Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State, a visit by Sunday Telegraph revealed that erosion is gradually yanking off a good part of the road, giving prominence to the canal on the road.

Sharing his experience on the road, a tricycle rider, John Nwoke, told Sunday Telegraph how plying the road could be a source worry and fear.

“I don’t know if I should call it a premonition or just a feeling that the road may divide soon. I have lived in this area for more than 10 years now and I have seen the opening get wider. Now, the road is narrow. I join in pleading with the Ogun State government to at least, remember this area which they claim is their own,” he said

Another driver, who spoke to Sunday Telegraph, Tayo Adeoye, explained that it is a sad situation as the road is in that state because of many years of neglect by the government. He stated that even though the community has had a local chairman like prominent Oluwole Enilolobo, in the past, nothing has been done to improve the road in anyway.

However, Mrs Julia Obocha, one of the residents who drives constantly on the road, suggested that since Ogun State government was not making any effort at improving the roads, it should surrender its ownership to Lagos State.

She argued that most of the residents in Giwa Oke Aro, Yewande and Lambe communities work and pay tax in Lagos State.

“The distance from the spot where the canal is dividing the road to the Lagos State boundary is not far. If Lagos State was allowed to possess these areas, I bet this major road would have been rehabilitated. We are suffering too much. We are surrounded by Lagos State properties. If Ogun State is not living up to their leadership duties,

 

 

why not allow Lagos State government take over. We all have Lagos State Revenue, LASRA permit and we live in an area called Ogun State.”

“On the 18th of October when there was downpour, two cars could not use the road at the same time. Flood had covered both sides of the road, making the canal invisible, so much that any misstep will have one diving head straight into the gorge. One lane had to wait for the other the pass,” she said.

Ordinarily, rainy season is a season that blesses the soil with wetness to bear fruit. Many, especially farmers, look forward to the rainy season. But this is the season residents of Matogun community, Ogun state, dread the most.

A resident, Emmanuella Johnson, who had lived in Matogun community for more than seven years, said that moving out of the area felt like she was released from bondage. She explained that waking up every day for a work day was a nightmare and going back home after a day’s job was even worse.

“Living there for more than six years, there was no improvement. My experience on that road was so bad that few years ago, when rain poured heavily, there was a signal that the road after the pig farm leading to the other side of Matogun is a no go area because of the flood. Once you get to that spot, you have to come down from the motorbike carrying you to either walk or slide through the mud because the slope was very slippery. By sliding, I mean sitting on the mud with your butt and slide because walking down that slippery muddy slope is difficult.

Some people that could not slide found themselves tumbling.

She added:”Cars could not pass because the mud was controlling the tire wheels thereby causing accident. I experienced this myself. That day, I got to Oke Aro bus stop 7:30pm and before I could get home that day, it was past 11pm and that was because I walked. Imagine how long it will take someone with his or her own car plying a dead end road on that rainy day. It is not advisable for someone to live in that area as a tenant because the stress and the transportation is not favorable at all.

“I hardly had visitors coming to see me when I was living there. I am glad I have gotten over the trauma of always thinking how I will move the next day.”

Lambe,Akute roads as nightmare

Narrating how the state of Lambe to Akute road is yields discomfort, a motorcycle rider( Okada rider) who gave his name as Jide, explained. He said:”The potholes from Lambe to Akute road are unbearable, “gba gba gbo gbo” is causing pain to my body, and even paracetamol is not working effectively for me again because I take it too much of it.

Until I take all this alcohol sachet that will make me high, you know I won’t feel too much pain when driving and sleeping but it has a negative effect on our body.

So what I do is one day on, one day off to reduce stress.”

On how the state of the road constantly shrinks his profit, making him part with tens of thousands of naira, a motorcycle rider(Keke NAPEP) who gave his name as Gbenga, tells his story:”The part of the motorcycle that is supposed to use up to a year before we change it, would use just six months and it would get damaged.

The painful part is that it is very expensive to buy almost as N100, 000. How much are we making in a year, talk less of in a month? There are also challenges we face almost every week like buying engine oil, changing the brake pad, and servicing the engine due to the condition of the road.”

Heavy taxes,poor roads

For Festus Adeyemi, an engineer, who lives in the Sango area of Ogun State, having to drive his car to Lagos is what he does rarely to save his car from damage and stay healthy, wondering why the government has failed to fix roads begging for repairs despite tax returns from multinationals.

“The reality of the place is that, it’s a place that links Lagos. So, there’s no way there will not be that huge vehicular movements.I have a car but I don’t take the car to my office. I rarely do so because you will contend with bad roads and traffic. These are two things that could damage your car and it could also be injurious to your health.However, if you look at the Ojuore side, there is long stretch from Ojuore to Atan and Owode. It  also leads to Ijanikin and some other places.

“This particular area has so many companies. Are you talking of Indomie, are talking of Honda? What I’m saying is there are so many companies on that stretch that pay taxes.How can that road now be the worst in the state? I’m almost certain that the money the government is making from that stretch I’m explaining is more than what they are generating in Abeokuta.This place I’m telling you links many companies (not small companies) , Honda is also here. What will it take the government to fix it?”

Where are the billions for roads?

Speaking while making an appearance before the State Assembly to defend the budget of his ministry for 2021, Ogun State Commissioner of Works, Engr. Ade Adesanya, said that the state planned to spend a total budget size of N40.81billion on roads in 2021 out of which a sum of N36.3billionn had been set aside for road construction and the remaining N4billion for road rehabilitation across the three senatorial districts.

Meanwhile, media reports quoted the commissioner as saying plans had already been concluded for the immediate commencement of construction works on the Atan-Agbara industrial 19.2km road, Ilishan-Ago-Iwoye, Ofada-Owode, Ikangba-Lagos Garage, Sango-Akute roads in 2021.

Also listed for construction in the same year were Akute-Denro Road, Lambe Junction-Matogun Junction, Matogun-Oke Aro, Oke-Aro Junction-Oke Aro all in Ifo, Lafenwa-Rounda-Ayetoro in Abeokuta North, with Journalists’ Estate Road, Arepo, Ofada-Mowe, Adesan Road, Mowe in Obafemi Owode LGA. However, investigation by Sunday Telegraph revealed that despite the billions earmarked for road construction in the aforesaid year, residents of Adesan Road road and Ofada-Mowe road lament the absence of government’s presence.

Speaking with Sunday Telegraph on the state of Adesan road and efforts by the Community Development Association (CDA) to make the road motorable, a landlord on Adesan Road, who gave his name as Kunle,said: ” It’s a shame that we have been left alone to shoulder the responsibility of the people we have elected.

The contract for the construction of this road has been awarded since the days of former Governor Gbenga Daniel but see how terrible this road is. Does it look like anything that has ever been tarred? Nothing was done! I’m surprised that you’re saying this road was among the roads that was supposed to be a beneficiary of the N40billion budgetary allocation for immediate reconstruction/rehabilitation works by the government. We can’t feel any impact of the money here. Apart from the people, we(the landlords) paid, no one came here for either road rehabilitation or construction. You should ask them where they kept the money,” he said.

Another landlord along Ofada-Mowe road said it was disheartening that the government of the immediate past governor of the state, Ibikunle Amosun, only tarred the a lane of the two-lane road, leaving the second in its parlous state. According to him, the government only started the rehabilitation work currently ongoing on the road in November 2022, noting that the road benefitted nothing from the budgetary allocation to it last year.

Questions about rehabilitation projects months to election year
Despite the ongoing rehabilitation projects seen in some parts of the state, some residents have questioned the motive. Meanwhile, a visit to the Sango area revealed that construction work had begun from tollgate to Joju. John Adisa is an accountant whose family lives in the Sango area of Ogun State. He told Sunday Telegraph that he had to partly relocate to the Oshodi area of Lagos to avoid incurring the wrath of the boss due the unceasing traffic jam in his Sango neighborhood.

Adisa said: “As you can see, the road here is now being rehabilitated. But from U-turn after Abule Egba down to Ijaiye, Meiran, Salolo, Caso, Kola, Ajegunle before toll gate have been totally neglected. For more than two years, nothing has been done at all. But we are not fooled. This is about the election coming up next year.

Why has the government suddenly realized we exist here? Well, it’s still commendable. There’s another government that doesn’t even bother,” he told Sunday Telegraph.

Also, in his reaction, a landlord along Ofada-Mowe road, who chose to be anonymous, knocked the Ogun State government for, according to him, ignoring the road despite claims that the contract for its construction had been awarded.The ongoing rehabilitation work on the tarred part of the two-lane road,he said, was just a ruse to get votes.

“It’s obvious these people just need our votes. They now know we are here when election is  around the corner. You asked if they were here last year, these people never did anything here until when they realized it’s getting to another election year. I never even knew there was a budget for it last year. You’re telling me now.

 

That’s example of how corruption is killing our country. Even the one portion of the road they rehabilitating is meant to complete the work done earlier. It’s now that they are adding the last layer of the road they tarred earlier.”

He further explained that the same contractor, who handled the project in the days of Governor Amosun was carrying out the rehabilitation work on the said road, admonishing that governments at all levels should be sincere to those they profess to lead and lead with the fear of God.

Earlier, the State Commissioner of Information and Strategy,Waheed Odusile, had dismissed the allegation that the state government’s efforts at reconstructing some bad roads across the three senatorial districts of the state was driven by politics.

 

While fielding questions from journalists at Chief Segun Osoba Press Centre, Abeokuta, Odusile said the government’s action was borne out of the zeal to boost socioeconomic development of the state.

 

According to him, the state government had made series of efforts to particularly fix some portions of Lagos – Sango Ota – Abeokuta road, which prompted the governor to visit Abuja on four occasions.

Though the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure in Ogun State, Adebimpe Akinsaya, failed to speak with Sunday Telegraph on the issue, his counterpart in the Ministry of Community Development and Cooporatives, Mr. Abayomi Hunye, said infrastructural development is close to the heart of the state government .

According to him, this commitment has been manifested in the annual budgetary allocation to infrastructural development, especially in the rural communities.

 

“Only recently, Governor Dapo Abiodun distributed about N500 million to Community Development Associations in the state to support their various ongoing projects.

“We have distributed more than 100 transformers to communities in the 20 local governments in the state and are still doing more, even though this is not the duty of the state government. This is besides grading of roads and drainages in the communities.

“I am aware that some community leaders are not comfortable with the changes we are introducing in community development but things have to be done properly, not like a jamboree. I was Director of Community Development in Lagos State and I have sold an idea to Governor Abiodun and we are implementing them, including annual release of administrative grants.

 

“CDAs were created for self-help purposes, and they are in existence largely to help propagate policy of the state government in the area of community development, hence they are an extension of the state government. There are some issues in some parts of the state but we have resolved them.

“Besides local governments in Ogun State are doing their part in the area of infrastructural development, even as the Ministry of Works is carrying out palliatives and rehabilitations in many parts of the state.”

 

Additional reports by Ifeoma Ononye and Oladele Nojimu

 

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