On April 28, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State turned the sod on the rehabilitation work of the Atan-Lusada-Agbara Road, abandoned by successive administrations. In this report, NDUBUISI UGAH examines the socio-economic and political implications of the rehabilitation of the road on the people and government
The residents of Atan, Lusada, Igbesa and Agbara communities, recently heaved a sigh of relief as the Governor Dapo Abiodunled administration in Ogun State, turned the sod on the rehabilitation work of the Atan-Lusada-Agbara Road. Though the road, which leads to the largest industrial estate in Nigeria – Agbara – belongs to the Federal Government, it has suffered neglect. Despite the fact that the road is key to the economic development of the country, its state of disrepair has taken a serious toll on several companies located on the axis.
The axis also hosts one of the largest free trade zones in Nigeria, Ogun Guangdong FTZ, Igbesa. The immediate past administration under the leadership of Senator Ibikunle Amosun raised the hopes of thousands of residents, motorists and companies on the road, when it began construction of an overhead bridge at the Igbesa Junction, but the project, like several others, was abandoned. The pillars of the abandoned overhead bridge have not only worsened the road, the crater created by the excavation work had aided flooding of the community around the project site.
Since inception, however, the Abiodun administration had signified its interest in fixing the road. The governor declared that all infrastructural projects abandoned by his successor would be completed, albeit with a proviso. According to Abiodun, only projects with direct economic impact on the lives of the Ogun State people will be continued and completed. This, the governor has demonstrated by completing some of the road projects in the above category. A key example is the completion of the overhead bridge and inroad at Kuto, Abeokuta.
Panseke-Adigbe-Opako and Lafenwa- Rounda-Ayetoro roads are other two major roads abandoned by the immediate administration, but were continued by the incumbent government. Apart from the Atan-Lusada-Agbara Road, Paplanto-Sagamu Interchange Road was another key road on the radar of the Abiodun-led administration.
Though both roads belong to the Federal Government, the Ogun State government, under the leadership of Abiodun, had sought and got approval to take ownership of Atan-Lusada-Agbara Road, with the view of finding a lasting solution to the deplorable condition of this road, to ease movement of goods across the axis.
As a government that hinges its operations on public-private partnership, Abiodun’s government mooted the PPP approach to fix the Agbara Road. At every occasion, the governor had made it clear that the cost to fix the road was humongous, hence, his desire to enlist the synergy of the private sector. But while the preparation was ongoing, the governor had directed the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure to carry out palliative work on the road to ease vehicular movement.
The palliative work which began from the Atan junction, indeed helped as falling of articulated vehicles reduced drastically, especially when it rains. Meanwhile, the joy of residents, small business owners and industrialists on the industrial road knew no bounds, when the governor flagged off the reconstruction work of Atan-Lusada-Agbara Road, on Thursday, April 29.
With this bold step, business and industrial activities along the axis would receive a boon and ginger investors’ confidence in his administration’s quest to espouse good governance. An earlier visit to the industrial road showed that heavy-duty equipment had been moved to the site, ahead of the flag off of the reconstruction.
Observation of the ambience equally showed that residents were delighted that their woes would soon be turned to joy. At the turning of sod ceremony by the governor, indigenes of the town trooped out in large numbers to witness the event, while top government functionaries, traditional rulers, industrialists, community leaders, business owners and youths, also witnessed the ceremony. Also in attendance were the Senate Committee Chairman on Works and former Governor of Kebbi State, Adamu Aliero, Senator representing Lagos West and the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Adeola Olamilekan, otherwise known as Yayi. Other senators at the event were Ayo Akinyelure, Bamidele Opeyemi and Michael Nnachi.
A member representing the Ota Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Jimoh Ojugbele, was also present. Welcoming the people to the event, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Ade Akinsanya (an engineer), noted that the construction of the road would not only boost economic activities of the area but would equally improve individual prosperity of indigenes of the community and beyond. Akinsanya added that the construction of the 10.25km Lusada-Igbesa Road was borne out of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement with the Ogun Guandong Free Trade Zone, Igbesa, being an upshot of China Africa Investment.
This, according to him, has demonstrated the Ogun State government commitment to work with private organisations and investors to develop infrastructure. “Lusada- Igbesa Road now wears a new look with necessary modern and durable features that can stand a test of time,” he added.
In his remark, the Managing Director of Hi-Tech Construction Company, the firm handling the project, Bekker, said his company was excited to be part of the project. Bekker promised that the company would do a quality job it was reputed for in the country.
He added that the road, when completed, would reduce cost of production and engender ease of doing business on the economic corridor. On his part, the Chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Ogun State, Salim Adegunwa, saluted Abiodun for keeping his electioneering promise to his members and sought the governor’s intervention in the area of multiple taxation. In their respective royal goodwill messages, the Olota of Ota, Oba Abdul-Kabir Adeyemi Obalanlege, and the Olu of Ilaro who is the paramount ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, hailed the governor for showing tremendous interest in the development of Ogun West Senatorial District. They noted that rehabilitation of the most important road in Aworiland and Ogun State would ease transportation of raw materials as well as finished goods to and fro the Agbara Industrial Estate. Also, the House of Representatives member, Ojugbele, thanked the governor for turning the reproach of his constituency into a thing of joy to the residents.
“I will now be free and bold to visit and interact with my constituents without fear of any harassment,” he added. The President, Yewa-Awori Youth Council, Abayomi Oke, expressed delight that the governor responded positively to the ‘End-Bad-Road’ protests embarked upon last year by youths of the area.
The Senator who represented Ogun West at the Red Chamber between 2011 and 2015, Akin Odunsi, described the tuning of sod as a landmark event, which will bring succour to the residents and companies along the corridor. On his part, Senator Adeola said the road reconstruction was a legacy for Ogun West and Ogun State in general. In his remarks, Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, Aliero, assured the Ogun State government that the committee would ensure that the reconstruction work on Atan-Lusada-Agbara Road is included in the 2022 appropriation bill.
He said: “This road is a Federal Government road, because of the concern you have for your people you decided to embark on the reconstruction of the road because of its economic value, not only to the state, but to the country. This is what good governance is all about.”
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, lauded the governor for taking the bold step to rehabilitate the industrial road. He promised that his ministry would continue to collaborate with the state on areas of trade and investment.
In his own submission, the lawmaker representing Ado Odo Ota Constituency 2 in the Ogun State House of Assembly, Musefiu Lamidi, said that as a representative of the concerned people in the state Assembly, he was excited to see the road get a new lease of life.
A motorcycle rider at Atan Junction, Mukaila Abifarin, said fixing the road would not only bring succour to motorists and the commuters, but also unleash the economic potential of the axis. Abifarin said he had thought that work had ended on the road after the palliative work, but when he learnt that proper reconstruction work would soon commence on the road, he couldn’t believe it, until equipment were moved to site. He added: “I am particularly happy that at the end of the day, we have a government in Ogun State that remembers us here.
We have suffered on this road! The past administration, during the campaign for second term, came here to promise that work would begin on the road in earnest, but what we only saw were pillars for a bridge at the Igbesa Junction and nothing more. In fact, that has worsened the road as one cannot pass through when it rains.
“But with Governor Abiodun walking his talk on this road, I am happy. I commend the governor for his big heart and courage to undertake the rehabilitation of this road, which connects the industrial estate to the rest of the state and Lagos. This is going to bring a great relief to commuters, motorists, motorcyclists and even the multinationals at Agbara. I pray and hope that this project will be completed as scheduled.” On his part, a student of the Institute of Technology, Igbesa, Kolawole Bodunrin, said he would regard the construction of the Atan- Lusada-Agbara Road as Abiodun’s best achievement.
He said: “Travelling on this road, particularly before the palliative work was carried out recently, was harrowing. It was a bumpy ride from Atan to Agbara; the only succour for me is the smooth ride from Igbesa Junction to my school. Most of the time, I got fatigued and experienced pains on my body. Though the palliative work on the road by the incumbent administration gave us some relief, with the commencement of the reconstruction of the road, we should all hope for a better future and a stress-free journey on the road.”
For Isaac Afolami, an estate developer at Lusada town, fixing the road would further open up the axis, not only to the industrialists, but estate developers, who, according to him, have found it difficult to market their estates, due to the deplorable condition of the road. An official of Crawford University, Foluke Richard, expressed delight that reconstruction work would eventually begin on the road. She noted that the road, when completed, would come handy for people travelling from Abeokuta, and Sango- Ota to Badagry in Lagos State. Addressing the gathering, Abiodun said the commencement of rehabilitation work on the road would impact positively on the ease of doing business along the industrial corridor. According to him, the road will be completed in 15 months.
The governor said though the road, which is part of the Sokoto-Badagry Expressway, belonged to the Federal Government, his administration decided to embark on the reconstruction of the road to give succour to the residents and companies along the axis. Abiodun, who reiterated that his government would not develop any part of the state at the expense of another, disclosed that over 172 kilometres of road had been constructed, while 120 kilometres had also been rehabilitated across the length and breadth of Ogun State within two years of his administration.
The governor commended the President Muhammadu Buhariled Federal Government for the prompt approval on the request for the transfer of the rehabilitation, reconstruction and maintenance of Atan-Lusada-Agbara Road to the Ogun State. He said: “No doubt, today’s twin event of turning of sod of Atan- Lusada-Agbara Road and commissioning of the Lusada-Igbesa Road is part of our administration’s commitment to provide infrastructure in order to continue to open up our border communities along the axis.
It is, in fact, an assertion of our strategic and deliberate approach to reposition all our industrial hubs in our dear state. And, no doubt, Ogun West, especially the Agbara Industrial Estate in Nigeria, which is one of the biggest industrial estates, remains key to the development of Ogun State.
“In this direction, and, completion of Atan-Lusada-Agbara, which is expected in the next few months, will go a long way towards improving the quality of life and advancement of commerce in Ogun West and other industrial hubs in Ogun State. “And, I am very optimistic that, at completion, this Atan-Lusada- Agbara Road will not only improve ease of doing business in this area, but bring a wholesome development to the entire Ogun West District.”