Tales of sorrow, anger as residents decry Sango-Agbado-Akute road
No doubt, the expansion of the 32km Sango-Ijoko-Agbado-Ojodu Abiodun road is a massive project, capable of not only opening up the area for commercial activities, but will engender rapid development of Ogun State.
So, when bulldozers and excavators roared in the neighbourhood on Monday, October 22, 2013, dismantling structures to make way for the expansion of the road, it was no surprise that residents welcomed the development with joy.
Within days, structures on both sides of the road from Sango under bridge, through Ogba-Iyo to Akute and Alagbole down to Sabo were demolished. Shops, residential buildings, churches, mosques, filling stations and shanties, among other properties, were not spared, including a shopping complex in Ogba-Iyo, Ijoko. Owners bore the pain with optimism more so when it was advertised that the road would be completed within 24 months.
Four years on, what many thought to be a blessing, has come to haunt them, as the road, which is the artery into the border communities and Berger on the Lagos/Ibadan expressway, is now a burden.The over 20 border communities on the axis, majority of which fall under Agbado area of Ifo Local Government, are currently reeling in pains.
Residents of the communities, which include: Alagbole, Olambe, Akeredolu, Peters, Adiyan, Opeilu, Akute, Itoki, Giwa, Ajuwon, Gideon, Abule-Ekun, Ibaragun, Sabo, Alagbole, Idi-Orogbo, Fabolude, Matogun, Adiyan Alausa, Otun, Oke-Aro, Egon, Arinfanla, Osere, Ojodu-Abiodun, Denro, Agbado, Ijoko and Sango Ota, who spoke with The Guardian, claimed that the uncompleted road project had brought them untold hardships. Sadly, those whose properties were demolished, are still waiting to be compensated.
When The Guardian visited Arifanla, Opeilu and Idi-Orogbo, from Adiyan junction, which links these places with Agbado, nothing had been done. Even in Abule-Ekun, it was observed that houses were demolished without any development.Some of the people who were forced to relocate from their homes and means of livelihood, described the abandonment as punishment by the state government.
Ola Ogundimu, whose father’s property were demolished in the area, said he had made several attempts to get compensated, but as of the time of filing this report, there was no sign government was ready to make any payment, despite the fact that he had presented all the documents requested by government.
The Guardian gathered from the residents that the project is as good as abandoned, considering the terrible state of the whole project. Except something great happens; the project might not be completed before the expiration of the tenure of the present administration.Prior to the 2015 General Elections, aggrieved people from Agbado, Abule-Ekun and Gideon carried placards to register their displeasure over government’s inability to compensate them for the destroyed properties, when the governor was addressing people at St. Peter’s School, Agbado.
But for about 800 metres partially tarred section of the road from Sango under bridge to Gas line junction, the remaining section of the stretch were left untouched to Ijoko/Ogba’yo Motor Park. A journey, which should have taken only 13 minutes, now last for about 30 minutes, as commercial buses try to meander through the pot holes and craters on the road.
One aggrieved community leader in the area, Chief Phillips Oladolu, told The Guardian that his people have lost confidence in Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s administration. “We have lost count, how many times he (Amosun) had visited here with assurance that the project would soon be completed. In 2015, prior to the election, he also made such promise, which later turned out to be a mere political statement. We are not interested in seeing him here again. The demolition in Akute area is massive and nothing has been done there. It has negatively affected the economy and social life, causing family dislocation. Our people no longer go to their work places with their cars, on the average, five to six cars are damaged on daily basis.“Cost of transportation has increased. About 80 Tricycles were plying Giwa/Olambe inside route this time last year, but now only 17 are functional. Cost of transportation has increased by 100 per cent because of problem of daily repair, people now rely on railway transportation, which is more costly.”
He noted that the governor’s action is an affront on the people of the area, who gave their votes to him in 2011 and 2015. It was learnt that the old Ifo local government has 11 wards, five of them – wards 1, 2, 3, 10 and 11 fall under Ifo Constituency 1, while six wards – 4 (Agbado), 5 (Isheri/Ojodu), 6 (Akute/Ajuwon), 7 (Oke-Aro/Ibaragun), 8 (Ososun) and 9 (Sunren) fall under Constituency 2. Of the six wards in Constituency 2, wards 4, 5 and 7 fall under areas where the project really affected. Ward 7 (Oke-Aro/Ibaragun), adjudged the largest ward in the state, in terms of voters’ population of the old 236 wards, is the most affected. The Guardian checks revealed that votes from the ward are more than the total votes of the five wards in Constituency 1, yet they are marginalised and starved of developmental projects.
A landlady, Madam Oyinlola Ebun, who lamented the governor’s insensitivity to their plight, said the ongoing dualisation of the Kobape road in Abeokuta is a misplaced priority, when the project he started in 2013, is yet to be completed. “Whenever we go to Abeokuta and see the transformation of the city with bridges and good roads, we are always angry that we wasted our votes. There is no single project of the present administration in Agbado axis, let the governor come and contest this. We don’t have the millennium school, no General hospital, and no medical centres, while Ifo has all but they produce less votes. Let the governor come out to mention any new programme of this administration in his five-cardinal programme.
The Guardian gathered from the residents that the project is as good as abandoned, considering the terrible state of the whole project. Except something great happens; the project might not be completed before the expiration of the tenure of the present administration. Prior to the 2015 General Elections, aggrieved people from Agbado, Abule-Ekun and Gideon carried placards to register their displeasure over government’s inability to compensate them for the destroyed properties, when the governor was addressing people at St. Peter’s School, Agbado.
“This government has been wicked to the people of this area, let them come and point to the health and education facilities built by this administration. In terms of health, education and transportation, we have lost hope, even on urban renewal. None of the projects going on in parts of the state touch this area. Let them come and contradict it, its only Agbado health centre that had been built long time ago, people go to Ojodu in Lagos to access health facilities. No single transformer, communities provide themselves with transformers, they construct roads and other facilities. Even in political appointment, we have been sidelined, we have no commissioner, we are not represented, it’s a shame on Amosun and his administration.”
When the contractor resumed work prior to the 2015 general elections to the excitement of the residents, they sped up work on all the five bridges and flyover points. Their effort made them complete all the outstanding pillars, but the work was suddenly stopped. However, the Ijoko flyover has received more attention than those at Agbado, Abule Osho, Akute and Alagbole. Though it is at advanced stage of casting even with a part having railings, but it’s still only between 40 to 42 per cent done, as the under bridge has been turned to motor park, while the sides have been taken over by traders.
Work on the flyovers at Agbado and Akute has not advanced due to the sudden disappearance of the contractors, while the beams connecting the pillars on one lane of the Alagbole and Abule Osho have been completed with slabs on it making it ready for casting.Movement from the junction to Agbado crossing, where another bridge is located is always a terrible experience, as vehicles take about two hours, dodging the craters and negotiating corners and bends to escape damage.
There is no serious work done on the bridge, compared to what it was in 2014. Its still about 25 per cent completed and might even have been weakened since it has been left untouched for some time.It was the same experience on the roads to all other bridges and construction points, giving residents nightmare and pains.
From The Guardian feelers, companies, filling stations and business concerns within the area are recording losses, even small and medium scale business operators are groaning under the burden of poor patronage due to the in-accessibility of the area by those requiring their services and products. One of such is a Gas company around Itoki, which has since closed down due to poor patronage caused by bad state of the road.Some of the businesses that suffered the demolition include; Nationwide filling station, Abule-Ekun; Oando filling station, Alagbole; NIPCO filling station, Alagbole, MRS filling station, Opeilu and Gas filling station, Abule/Idi Orogbo
Because of the project, the Adiyan Water Works, one of the largest in the state was badly affected, causing scarcity of water for residents in the last three years. Also, the Customary Court, Agbado was demolished without any attempt to build another.The Guardian learnt that the Oke-Aro Pig Farm, the biggest in West Africa is also suffering due to low patronage.The contract awarded to Messrs Prado E. Mercedos, a Brazilian construction firm in 2013, at the rate of N70b, has dragged-on for over three years, due to what government termed paucity of funds.
On February 14, 2016, residents of the area got a surprise valentine visit from the governor, with the promise to complete the project soon. His inaction prompted the christening of the visit ‘Amosun Valentine Lies’. Last September, the governor visited the area again. During his inspection of the project, he assured residents that by March this year the road and the five overhead bridges would have been completed, but as of the time of filing this report, the situation on the road remain the same.
According to a statement by his spokesman, Adejuwon Soyinka; “the hardship of this rainy season would be the last that you would experience on this road before the completion of the project… by March next year (2017), the five overhead bridges on the road would have been completed.”When the member of House of Assembly, representing the Ifo State Constituency 2, Ganiyu Alani Oyedeji was contacted on phone, he told The Guardian that the contractor has been mobilised to return to the project site, noting that government has not abandoned the project, as widely believed.
He said the commitment of the present administration is to ensure the completion of the project before the expiration of this tenure in 2019. “If you see our budget for 2017, you’ll see that considerable development would be done on the project. The contractor has been paid to return to site.”On his part, House of Representatives member, representing Ifo/Ewekoro Federal Constituency, Ibrahim Isiaka, said the present administration is aware of the challenges of the people, noting that he has always discussed the area with the governor and has promised that it will be done. “Last week the governor came up with a schedule and that axis is one of them. By the time the project is completed, the people will be happy and their economy will receive fresh boost because they deserve to be treated well.”
The governor’s Senior Special Assistant (SSA) Media, Soyinka, told The Guardian that the project is not abandoned. He noted that the governor has mobilised contractors to the existing projects and new ones, stressing that the road is included. “The people in the area have started seeing the sign of the contractor, though the perspective from Sango end may be different from Berger end. It may take two to three weeks to move their equipment back to the location. To see full-scale activity, it may take one or two weeks.” On the issue of non-payment of compensation, he said those who are yet to be compensated are those with obvious reason like internal disputes of two or more people claiming ownership of the property, among others, adding that ultimately, everybody will be compensated for their destroyed properties.
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