Atan-Agbara road threatens 70 industries in Ogun
as Ogun intensifies effort at constructions, repairs
For the industries located in Atan-Agbara area of Ogun State, the deplorable state of the roads has become a major hindrance to productivity. In fact, it has become a nightmare, as goods worth millions of naira are lost frequent accidents on the road.
The Guardian gathered that efforts to get the Ogun State government to fix the all-important road has yielded no results. Transporters on the route are also groaning in pains. The lifespan of vehicles plying the route have been drastically reduced while human lives are put at risk as they travel through.
Atan-Agbara community in Ogun State played host to over 70 industries manufacturing various consumer goods being distributed across the country.
Notable industries in the axis include GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Unilever, Nestle Plc, Beloxxi Group, Procter & Gamble, Sunsteel Industries Ltd, Cometstar Manufacturing Company Ltd, GZ Industries, Drury Industries Limited among others.
The road links Agbara, Atan, Ota, Sango, Lusada, Badagry, Ojo among others.
In a continued struggle to get the road fixed, residents of Atan – Agbara community recently staged a protest to express their displeasure on the worsening state of the road, and accused the Ogun State Government of neglect and unfulfiled campaign promises.
In the buildup to the anger, frustration, and griming disappointments, the residents comprising small business operators, residents and community leaders on took to the streets over the deplorable state of the roads.
The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions, indicating they could no longer bear the worsening road condition.
However, the backlog of the poor state of the Atan – Agbara road resonates on the Lagos – Badagry Expressway road in heavy traffic build-ups.
In their hundreds, the aggrieved protesters marched to the Lusada axis of the long Atan-Agbara road, bearing placards with inscriptions like, ‘Let Our Tax Deduction Count’, Give Us Good Roads’, ‘Bad Road is Aiding Insecurity in our Communities’, and ‘No Good Roads, No Massive Votes in 2019’.
Road users along the axis and beyond have continued to experience unimaginable frustrating giddiness, which the road freely offers to travelers owing to its terrible condition.
It was further revealed that the high number of crashes on the road is making a number of private owned schools to lose their students to schools located outside the area, as parents groan on daily basis and are also afraid of exposing their children to undeserving danger, or worse still, death, as a result of the high risk caused by the dilapidated state of the road.
The Chairman, Akore Community, near Atan, Chief Benjamin Olawepo, described their experiences on the road as nightmarish. According to him, the road is a visa to hell, as small vehicles contend with the many fully loaded container trailers that heavily ply the road daily.
Road users are left at the mercy of trailer drivers, who carelessly delve into the so many gully like pot holes, not minding if container loses grip and collapses on unlucky car or bus loaded with passengers, students, and so on.
Olawepo’s complaints and other residents, who feel abandoned by both the Federal and state governments were confirmed when I took the journey from Atan to Agbara to have a firsthand experience of the road.
However, the action of the road dwellers got the attention of the state government and in a swift reaction through its Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Olamilekan Adegbite, gave a detailed explanation of its position.
Speaking on the state of the road, Adegbite expressed the concern of the government on the condition of the road and others in similar conditions across the state.
He expressed displeasure over the wrong perception that people have about the status of the road, which according to him, belongs to the Federal government.
So far, the government as the closest to the people has demonstrated enough responsibility by awarding the reconstruction of the road to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) Nigeria Limited, which began work with some identifiable and visible landmarks of the works done so far, dotting the road at Lusada where pillars for a fly over bridge had been erected and drainage constructed at the Atan end.
According to him the Atan – Agbara road was a priority project earmarked by Governor Ibikunle Amosu to be executed by his administration, and the intention was conveyed to the federal government but was hampered due to scarcity of funds.
He said the state had so far expended over N174 billion on federal roads without a single refund till date. After exhausting all the legal and legitimate processes for getting a refund, a committee headed by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, was set up by the federal government to look into those claims. And the committee did visit the various road projects sites to ascertain the veracity of the demands of the state government.
At the end of the exercise, and following the visit of the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, an approval was given to refund the money in tranches with an initial refund of about N60 billion. But till date, not a dime has been released to the state, Adegbite revealed.
The situation has hampered the state’s resolve to use part of the expected sum for the reconstruction of the Atan – Agbara road, but the state government has again taken a proactive step with a decision to order contractors back to the road to carry out surface grading, fillings, patching and opening of drainage on both sides of the road to generally improve the present state and make it motorable in the days to come.
He however cautioned that given the high number of articulated vehicles plying the road and the violation of the axial load limit of 30 tons per vehicle by most of them, it is difficult to keep the road in good condition for a long time.
So, what the government is proposing is palliative when compared to the concrete road that is contained in its plan.
It is even more noteworthy at this time when other state governments have relegated governance for political expediency, but his administration is expediting efforts to ensure maximum deliveries on its mandate, especially road projects.
The administration has taken up a total of 55 different road projects ranging from; highways, bridges, drainage, flyovers, and road interchange across the state. Many of these projects have been completed and many are at advanced stages of completion.
A major road project that is of particular interest to a large number of Lagosians living at the border lines with Ogun state is the Sango-Ijoko-Akute-Yakoyo highway.
Adegbite said the road which spans a total of 40 kilometers was avoided by past administrations of the state because of the complexities associated with the construction.
However, this government dared the odds and kick started the road project which is to cost a whopping N70 billion and for the state to raise such amount of money it has to explore potential avenues to generate money for the project.
The government then realized that a high number of residents in this area are actually people who work or do their businesses in Lagos and illegally pay their taxes (P.A.Y.E.) to the Lagos state government.
In the light of this it became expedient for the Ogun state government to demand a reversal of this trend in line with the legal provisions that your PAYE taxes should be paid in your place of residence.
We therefore agreed with the Lagos state government to remit taxes of workers who indicate their residence in Ogun state to us, but the arrangement was partially adhered to by the Lagos state government both by Governor Fashola and now Governor Ambode.
According to Adegbite, the state was therefore faced with the need to fund the project from other sources.
To use the ‘PPP’ arrangement will require that the road be tolled to facilitate repayments. But as a responsive government who are aware of the economic implications this could have on the ordinary commuters of the road, decided to have a special bus lane dedicated to commercial vehicle operators which would exempt them from any form of tolling.
The ‘PPP’ arrangement did not scale through with the Brazilian company who indicated interest initially. So the state government was left to solely fund the massive project from scarce resources and so many jostling demands.
The highway which is designed to have 5 bridges and flyovers located at Ijoko, Agbado, river Ekun, Akute and river Yakoyo, have all been completed.
The government in its wisdom has also completed critical sections of the road to facilitate use by the general public.
The commissioner enumerated that the six kilometers section of the road from Sango to the Ijoko flyover bridge had been completed with concrete.
At the Agbado flyover section, a total of three kilometers was constructed before the bridge and 1.5 kilometers after the bridge.
River Ekun section of the road had a kilometer of the road completed before the bridge and a total of three kilometers after the bridge to the Abule Ekun market.
The Akute section is the least completed of the various sections, due to the high density of utility service features such as electric wires, gas and water pipes criss -crossing the road path.
It will take over a N100 million to evacuate and possibly relocate these service features. So the government is taking its time to do a thorough job.
At the Yakoyo section, Adegbite said the flyover bridge is presently in use by motorists who are full of appreciation to the government for the bridge which had eased the flow of traffic in that axis.
From the Akute end, a total of 2 kilometers was constructed to the bridge and 500 meters after.
Much construction works could not be done after the bridge because of the large concentration of buildings and population density.
From the Ojodu Berger end, the Ogun state government patched all the potholes on the road that was on the Lagos state side, while the stretch in Ogun state was tarred.
So far according to him a total of N3 billion had been paid out as compensations to the public and over N15 billion had been expended by the state on the Sango -Yakoyo highway, Adegbite said.
However, Adegbite said government is a continuum, while expressing optimism that the incoming government will continue from the stage of the construction when this government leaves.