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Ogun communities seek intervention over collapsed Okepa link-bridge

By Bertram Nwannekanma
18 January 2023   |   5:07 am
About 100 communities in Obafemi-Owode Local Council of Ogun State have called on the State Government to repair the collapsed Okepa link bridge, built in the 1950s by colonial government, which caved in last year after a heavy rainfall.

About 100 communities in Obafemi-Owode Local Council of Ogun State have called on the State Government to repair the collapsed Okepa link bridge, built in the 1950s by colonial government, which caved in last year after a heavy rainfall.

The communities, which staged a peaceful rally at the weekend on the site of the collapsed bridge, urged the state governor, Mr. Dapo Abiodun, to save them from the hardship they are now exposed to following the collapse of the bridge, which links some agrarian communities in the council and serves as alternative route to Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

Some of the affected communities cut off from economic activities as a result of the collapsed bridge are: Magbon, Fowowawi, Kara Nla, Torotoro, Orimerunmu, Ijere Worugundu, Orile Egan, Imedu Okepa, Makogi, Pakuro, Adesan, Ogunrun Ori and Magboro.

Speaking to The Guardian during the protest, Otun Baale of Ogunrun Ori community, Chief Olabanjo Awosiga, said the collapsed bridge has caused immense disruption of economic activities in the entire Ofada Ward.

According to him, there is need for urgent government attention on the bridge, which also leads to the only government primary school in Pakuro.

He lamented that despite possessing huge electoral value, the area which hostS the first customary court in the council has been abandoned by successive governments.

Also, an indigene of Okepa, Chief Oluwale Olaoye, said the bridge provides access to Ibafo, Magboro and Berger for those coming from Abeokuta and Owode.

He disclosed that before the construction of Lagos -Ibadan Expressway, the route was the only path constructed as a link to surrounding communities due to mining activities at the adjoining river.

Chief Olaoye requested the governor to do something fast on the bridge before rehabilitating the road to ensure easier passage. For the chairman of Ogunrun Area Community Development Committee (CDC), Mr. Samuel Babalola, the rehabilitation of the damaged bridge is necessary as vehicles no longer ply the road, thereby subjecting residents and the entire adjoining communities into untold hardship.

A community leader and chairperson of Unity Avenue Community Development Association (CDA), Mrs. Talabi Bolajuku, narrated the dangers residents, especially women face in taking their children to schools as well as going to Mowe market.

According to her, the only option for them is to use the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, where they have to come out and turn at Olowetode U-turn, near NASFAT and enter the expressway towards Ibadan, before turning again at ‘Car park C’ near Redemption Village to return to Mowe.

For those that are not driving, she said, they have to cross the expressway with the attendant risks, without a pedestrian bridge, to board a bus on the other side to Mowe, which has resulted to avoidable deaths.

She pleaded with Governor Abiodun to save them from these avoidable deaths and tortuous journey by repairing the bridge, to avoid them using the expressway as the only alternative.

Also, appealing for urgent government intervention, chairman Pakuro Area Community Development Committee, Olufemi Omoloso, said since the collapse of the bridge last year, they made efforts to reach representatives of government like, Olumide Osoba of the House of Representatives, Damilola Soneye, of the State House of Assembly, Obafemi-Owode Council boss, Okunsola Adesina and the Governor’s Office without any solution.

According to him, the only response was that approval had been given for the rehabilitation. Omoloso stressed that the bridge needs urgent attention because the makeshift erected by the community to allow for pedestrian use is already caving in because tricycle and motorcycles operators have started using it.

He noted that the cost of repairs could not be more than N10 million and that should not lead to a waste of time, considering the importance of the road to over 100 communities in the state.

Omotoso appealed to the governor to come to their aid as the people are already mobilised to support him. Also, community leaders, Mr. Samuel Asanwoolu and Rev. Olatunboh Odediya called on the governor to extend his good gesture to ensure that communities cut off are reintegrated to improve economic activities of the area.

Reacting, Mr Sunday Olakunle Somorin, the Chief Press Secretary Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, said the reconstruction of the damaged bridge has received approval and awaiting implementation. He assured that the state government will prioritise the reconstruction of the bridge to ensure security of life and property.