The deplorable state of Federal roads in Ogun means untold hard to residents and businesses, reports SAMUEL AWOYINFA, publisher/editor-in-chief, News On The Move.com.ng
“Oga, sebi this road na Federal Road, why e come be like this?,” a commercial driver, Taofeek, had said while his bus waited to pick passengers at the Sango-Ota end tollgate of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway on Tuesday.
No one among other commuters at the bus stop could proffer an answer to the rhetorical question posed by Taofeek.
Even before the rainy season set in, the road had become almost impassable.
The rains have further exposed the deplorable condition of the Federal roads in Ogun State.
Almost all the Federal roads in the gateway state are dotted with potholes and craters, that some of them if not all, require resurfacing and reconstruction.
The ones under focus in this piece are the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway and the Sango-Ota-Idiroko Expressway.
The former, as the name suggests linked Lagos and Ogun states and their communities.
While the latter, supposedly an international route (ECOWAS road) linked Nigeria to neighbouring countries such Republic of Benin, Togo, Ghana among others.
But due to years of neglect, the highways had turned to deathtraps. With the rains, they had further degenerated, leading to gridlock on daily basis and even accident, as trucks normally empty their contents on the roads,at these failed sections of the roads.
Our correspondent observed that about two years ago, a construction company had surfaced on the road, and did some works around Iyana Ilogbo(inward and outward) along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, but sometime last year, its workers and equipment left site.
Since then,they had not returned to site. Official sources had attributed this to paucity of funds by the Federal Government.
Travelling on this road comes with harrowing experience. Right from Lagos sections at such sections as U-turn, Ahmadiya, Kola, Salolo, Alakuko, Ajegunle and tollgate, to Ogun sections such as Sango, Joju, Owode, Papalanto, frontage of Lafarge, and Itori among others, have all failed.
The Sango-Ota -Idiroko Road is also the same. Failed sections dotted the route – Sango-under bridge axis, Ojuore, frontage of Iganmode Grammar School, frontage of General Hospital, Ota, and a stretch at Owode, Yewa axis among others had failed.
Remedial works carried out on them occasionally had soon failed after such interventions.
The Lagos and Ogun state governments had approached the Federal Government through a letter to be allowed to take over the road and reconstruct it through the Public Private Partnership, but no reply had been got yet.
Politicians and other residents have continued to express concerns over the deplorable state of these roads, as man-hours and economic activities are daily hampered.
Ogun State House of Assembly had recently expressed concern over the deplorable condition of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway especially Sango to Abeokuta axis.
Speaking during the plenary in Abeokuta, the Speaker of the House, Mr Olakunle Oluomo (APC–Ifo1), noted that the road is a federal road, saying that the state has in recent years spent a lot in fixing the road.
He called on the Federal Emergency Road Management Agency to as a matter of urgency deploy palliative measures to fix the road.
The Speaker explained that from Toll gate, Itori, Papalanto and Ewekoro axis of the road was no more motorable and needed immediate intervention from the appropriate quarters.
“The road is a Federal road and the state government had spent a lot on palliative on the road. Fortunately, the Chairman of FERMA is an indigene of the state and we must feel his impact,” he said.
Also the majority leader, Mr Yusuf Sherif (APC -Ado Odo Ota 1), speaking under personal explanation, complained about the bad state of the Ado/Odo/Ota, Joju and Sango garage axis on the same road
He lamented, “the bad portions of the road caused hours of gridlock and had affected economic activities in the area.
“I appeal to the concerned authority to do the needful immediately.”
Sometimes in October last year, scores of lawyers under the aegis of Nigerian Bar Association, Ota branch, Ogun State, abandoned the courtrooms to protest over the failed roads in the state.
The peaceful protest was led by the branch chairman, Isaac Ogbah.
Ogbah said all roads in the state were impassable, causing hardship for them and residents of the state.
He said, “There is no good road in Ogun State. All the roads have failed. The lawyers and judges don’t get to courts on time due to the condition of these roads. The residents too are suffering.”
A journalist,Tunde Opeseitan, has declared a 30-day activism to protest the deplorable sections on the Sango-Ota- Idiroko Road.
He lamented the deplorable state of the Ojuore-Atan-Obasanjo/Estate sections of the road among others.
In a protest message on his social media page, he said it was utterly disturbing that such “an important road which houses multi billion dollars industries and educational institutions, among others was abandoned and left to deteriorate to its present state.”
He called on the state and federal governments to fix the road, as “commuters are daily subjected to harrowing experiences due to the poor condition of the road.”
The Federal Government in June warned states that wanted to carry out repairs or reconstruct any of Federal roads in their domain, must inform the FG, otherwise it would not refund such money spent.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed had said, “Henceforth, if any state takes on federal government road, it will not be paid, they will not get any refund.
“Even if you want to pay from your own pocket, you will still need the permission of the federal government and it will be supervised by the federal ministry of works and housing.”
However, the Ogun State government said it has secured a sort of ‘subtle concession’ from the FG to reconstruct one of such roads in the state.
The Special Adviser on Public Communication to the State governor, Dapo Abiodun, Mr Remmy Hassan, said one of such roads is the Epe – Ijebu Ode Road, on which which reconstruction had begun.
He said, “We have got a ‘subtle concession’ from the Federal Government to reconstruct a Federal road in the state and that is the Epe -Ijebu Ode Road. Work has started on it.”
“Lagos has reconstructed its own stretch, we will do our own side to meet up with them.”
While listing other federal roads in the state to include Sagamu interchange-Papalanto-Ilaro road, Sagamu-Ikorodu road, and Abeokuta-Ibadan road among others. He, however, said the state could not undertake to reconstruct them due to limited resources.
Hassan, however, said there was hope on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway which it hoped to also get the consent of the FG and reconstruct through the Public Private Partnership, “because we don’t have such finance to carry out reconstruction on all these roads.”
He said the COVID-19 outbreak and bureaucracy had really slowed down the pace of things, “as the state has made some progress in its discussion with the federal government on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.”
A resident of Alakuko in Lagos, Ibrahim Azeez, said travelling on Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway could land one in the hospital, due to undulating nature of the road, adding that human hours were also wasted.
He said, “A journey of about 45 minutes could take a whole day most times. Businesses and human health are affected. Government must wake up and fix this road.”
A business owner along the Sango-Ota-Idiroko road, Mr Francis Ozoemena, said it was hell travelling on that road daily.
“My brother, it is hell here. The road requires urgent attention to save us from untold hardship we face daily,” he lamented.