Many Ogun State citizens, particularly those in the border areas, have had negative experiences when travelling through the Gateway State. In this article, LADESOPE LADELOKUN of New Telegraph discusses the suffering and annoyance brought on by the terrible condition 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.
Many of the communities in the state are in the dark and beg the government’s attention, despite the fact that the state government has a Ministry of Community Development and Cooperatives and annual allocations for infrastructural development.
The most of the time, the villages have been largely left alone. A prominent member of the community said that the Ministry’s founding and the entire guiding concept were frauds.
The Ogun State Community Development Programme Law of 2013 provided the Ogun State government with a legal foundation for the creation and operation of Community Development Associations, Community Development Committees, Zonal and State Community Development Committees. Additionally, it has the adage “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 localities have funded projects themselves, without assistance from the government. The sole way to obtain money to support projects has traditionally been through community fund raising. When there is an issue with the motorway, there are no connection roads to Lagos around the Mowe-Magboro axis.
Speaking about the effects of underdevelopment on people’s quality of life, income, and state government’s readiness to meet their requirements in terms of providing some social amenities was another CDA official, Mr. M.O. Adenekan, and an Area CDC Chairman, Ajose.
Ajose bemoaned that the administration in the Ibafo region had failed to make life bearable for the locals, claiming that the government was not especially concerned about the community. Rather,
Ajose bemoaned that the administration in the Ibafo region had failed to make life bearable for the locals, claiming that the government was not especially concerned about the community. Instead, they are more preoccupied with how to make money, which undermines the public’s interest in government policy.
The former governor of the area, Ibikunle Amosun, initiated a project but was unable to complete it, and as a result, it has been left abandoned, according to Prince Adesina Olukoga, chairman of the Magboro Area CDC.
“Several letters have been sent to the Governor’s Office and the Commissioner of Works pleading with them to finish this project and save us, but the state’s reaction, particularly in Magboro, has been woefully inadequate.”
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.
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’m not sure whether to describe it as a premonition or just a gut instinct that the road may soon split. I’ve been a resident of this neighbourhood for more than ten years, and I’ve witnessed the opening get larger. The road is now congested. I join in begging the Ogun State administration to at the very least keep in mind this territory they claim as their own,” he added.
Tayo Adeoye, another driver who talked with Sunday Telegraph, said it is a sad scenario because the government has been neglecting the road for many years, which has resulted in its current state. He claimed that despite the community having a notable local chairman like Oluwole Enilolobo in the past, nothing had been done to enhance it.
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 hand control over to Lagos State government? We all reside in a region known as Ogun State and have LASRA permits from the Lagos State Revenue.
“Two automobiles could not use the road at the same time on October 18 due to the downpour. Flood had completely flooded both sides of the road, hiding the canal to the point where one slip would send them plummeting head first into the canyon. According to her, one lane had to wait for the other to pass.
Typically, the rainy season is one that provides the soil with the moisture it needs to produce fruit. Many people look forward to the rainy season, especially farmers. But this is the time of year that people in Matogun, 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
A motorbike rider (Okada rider) who identified himself as Jide described how the condition of the Lambe to Akute road causes discomfort. The “gba gba gbo gbo” is hurting my body, the potholes on the route from Lambe to Akute are intolerable, and even paracetamol isn’t helping me this time since I take 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 region of Ogun State, having to drive to Lagos is something he only does occasionally to prevent damage to his car and keep it in good condition. He wonders why the government has failed to fix roads in need of repairs despite receiving tax money from multinational corporations.
“The location’s reality is that Lagos is connected to it. Therefore, it is impossible that there won’t be significant vehicle movements. Although I own a car, I don’t drive to work. I don’t do that very often due of the traffic and terrible roads. These are two things that could hurt your health as well as damage your car. But if you examine the Ojuore side, there is long stretch from Ojuore to Atan and Owode. It also leads to Ijanikin and some other places.
Where are the billions for roads?
Ogun State Commissioner of Works, Engr. Ade Adesanya, stated that the state planned to spend a total budget size of N40.81 billion on roads in 2021, of which a sum of N36.3 billion had been set aside for road construction and the remaining N4 billion for road rehabilitation across the three senatorial districts. Adesanya was speaking while appearing before the State Assembly to defend the budget of his ministry for 2021.
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 are an extension of the state government because they were established for self-help reasons and operate primarily to spread state policies about community development. Although there were some problems in some areas of the state, we were able to fix them.
Local governments in Ogun State are also contributing to the development of the state’s infrastructure, even as the Ministry of Works is working to restore various areas of the state.