Relief for Osun farmers, rural dwellers with RAMP
Rivers Shasha, located on the fringes of Ife North and Ife South local councils of Osun State, used to ‘swallow’ farmers and rural dwellers yearly.
In 2010, it claimed a family of seven in one fell swoop.
They had gone to farm in the morning, but while at the farm, it rained cats and dogs.
In their attempt to cross the river on their way home, they all got drowned in the river’s swift tide.
That was the sad story and fate of locals, especially the Oyere people, who have farm settlements at Womonle, a sleepy community in Ife North Local Government Area of the state and its environs.
Indeed, infrastructural development in any country is the fulcrum for its economic advancement.
However, road infrastructure is an essential component in the development and growth of any society where people and goods move from one point to another.
Adequate infrastructure supports economic development, helps to determine the success or failure in diversifying a state’s economy, coping with population growth, reducing poverty and improving environmental conditions, among others.
To this end, the coming of the World Bank’s objective of the Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP) in the country was timely.
Its objective was to support the improvement of rural access and mobility by providing road network in Osun State, as one of the beneficiaries.
Farmers and rural dwellers from five local councils no longer perish in the Shasha River, just as their farm produce no longer get wasted from lack of access roads to the city centres.
This is the case of Womonle, Ife Tuntun and other communities of farm settlers.
The settlers at Ife Tuntun were allocated lands by the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade, 22 years ago.
The farm produce from the communities and their environs now get to Osogbo, the state capital, with much ease, courtesy of the creation of access roads and especially the construction of the Womonle bridge, which now helps the people to get to Osogbo and back easily.
Expectedly, farmers in Osun have commended the government’s Rural Access and Mobility Programme (RAMP), saying it has relieved them from slavery.
The farmers, who spoke at Orile Onu, Oko Ope, Iluopa villages in Ipetumodu, and Gbongon, among others on the sideline of African Union, Economic, Social Cultural Council (AU-ECOSOCC) Nigeria infrastructure development inspection said the intervention has turned around their fortune.
Mr. Monday Olufemi said the bridge in his village has relieved them of over 30 years slave-like life, as they now have easy access to move their produce to the larger market.
Commending the administration, he said farmers in the village no longer need to worry about post harvest losses as people now come to the village to buy off their produce.
Another woman from Ipetu village said the community has suffered this lack of access for years before the construction of the rural access bridge.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Engr. N.O Adeagbo, said the clamour for rural development was one of the major agenda of the present administration’s six-point integral action plan.
He said the administration supported the objective of rural transport and travel policy and the National Agricultural Transformation Agenda of the federal government as part of efforts to ease the movement of agricultural products across the rural parts of the state.
It was in its understanding that infrastructural development, especially access roads from the rural areas to the cities and improve their livelihoods that the Osun State government set up O’RAMP in 2011.
The coming of this rural infrastructure agency, as coordinator of the Oyere Adedade Farmers’ Settlement, Samson Ilori Makinde, puts it during a facility tour of the access roads recently, has brought a new lease of life to the rural dwellers.
“Life has just begun,” he told The Guardian, saying since the Womonle Bridge was constructed, economic activities have picked up, life has become much easier for the communities that use the route to ferry their farm produce to Osogbo, Ile-Ife, Ilesha and other urban centres in the state.
His words: “People pass through this bridge from about 25 kilometres away.
The Shasha River always overflows its bounds from May to October each year.
Due to global warming, things are changing. We had a small canoe, which we always use to cross the river.
“If you are fortunate you pass through and pray for another day that you will pass here.
I can remember a man from Cross River State, who was swallowed up with his entire household.
Another boy, who usually helps to load our goods into the canoe to cross the river, was swept away and many others like that. This was the challenge we faced before the advent of O’RAMP.
“Secondly, most of our farm produce always get wasted on the river bank because it took about two or three days before they are loaded to the small canoe and occasionally when they can’t be loaded, they get rotten.
We reported to many governors and several leaders of the state, but there was no action or response from them until some years ago when we decided to go to the House of Assembly at Osogbo.
We were directed to the governor’s office. We wrote letters because we wanted the deaths within the community to stop and by the grace of God the state government responded.
“Life for us actually started after the bridge was constructed, many people bought vehicles, because I was the only one that had a jalopy vehicle then but within six months and one year, people started buying cars.
Not only that, our farm produce that were not moving started to move. We have the same price with the people in the city; we know what goes on there.
“Health wise, we are better, economically we are also better.
Presently we now have our area government at Oyere, I believe if this bridge has not been constructed government wouldn’t have brought a council to the area.
We are also looking forward to some other good things from the government.
We want government to help facilitate the Oyere-Modakeke road because it is a major road that we usually ply. We expect RAMP to do it.”
Narrating her ordeal, a trader and mother of four from Oyere Farm Settlement, Mrs. Akintade Kemi, said before the bridge, women faced a lot of challenges because there is no hospital, adding: “It was difficult accessing health facilities.
I gave birth to my last child in this community at the Oyere Maternity Centre, which is about three kilometres away.”
Another resident of Womonle, Mrs. Adenike Olaposi, told The Guardian that immunisation for their children was a challenge before the bridge was constructed, saying women experienced difficulties trying to cross over to the neighbouring Orile-Owu through a canoe.
“I visited the place one day and there was nobody to attend to my child because there was no good road for the health officials to access the health centre.
When I was pregnant, I wanted to go for scan but it was difficult accessing health facilities.
We used to trek about five kilometres from Womonle where I live and there wasn’t any midwife,” she added.
A Community Head, Chief Abioye Osho, urged politicians and their delegates in the communities to do better, saying they used to vote during elections and that their voting process is even better than the city but the only thing is that during elections, they bring caterpillars to deceive us thinking they want to repair the roads.
“At Oyere community they erected electricity poles over 10 years ago hoping to bring electricity but we haven’t seen light till now.
They usually camouflage us during elections. The bridge is about 18 miles to Modakeke,” he noted.
Speaking, President, Ife Zonal Farmers Association in Ife Tuntun, Ife South Council under the auspices of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Mukaila Akeeb, pleaded with the state government to provide other amenities since an access road has been built.
“We have a population of about 75, 000 people in this community.
It is like a dream for us to have an access to this place. This place used to be a thick forest.
We used to see the daylight about 12noon. We were here without hope and our farm produce get wasted because there was no road to transport them to the city.
“O’RAMP has given us access road. Hence, we ask government for more development in the area.
As we speak, there is no telecommunication network in this area.
No amenities, no hospitals and we are yet to exercise our rights to vote. No electricity, school, or market.
We are requesting for a local market because without farmers, there is no nation.
“We are pleading with the government to assist us.
There is the Owena Bridge in this area. We are begging government to help rebuild it and fix some other roads.
We are willing to exercise our rights to vote but there is no polling unit.
We used to walk about 18 kilometres from here before we can vote,” he stated.
O’RAMP-2 Project Coordinator, Adelere Oriolowo, however, assured that the demands for schools and hospitals were expected because once a problem is resolved, it becomes gateway to another one. The solution of one problem is the creation of another one.
He argued that communities that do not have access roads would not think of a school or hospital, insisting that the facilities being sought by the communities would be provided in due course because government has the capacity to provide them.
He explained that rural road rehabilitation project covers Osun East senatorial district and that the agency had completed two major projects, one of which is rehabilitation of 214 kilometers of roads in four regions.
He further explained that at the selection stage, the agency engaged in consultations and sensitisation workshops invited community leaders from the rural areas, council chairmen and other political officers, to submit the list of their roads that needed rehabilitation and reconstruction.
“With this, we were able to identify all the roads. We have about 2,000 kilometers of roads with about 700 routes, this was the list we gave to the consultant that prioritised the roads and it was among the prioritised roads that we were able to locate the roads that were selected for rehabilitation.
“We discovered that the Federal Government started the Womonle Bridge over 30 years ago but abandoned it.
And it links about five local governments whose farm produce were wasting.
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