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The pain that is Akute-Ajuwon road

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The abandoned Akute bridge

• Residents of Lagos, Ogun border towns lament neglect
• We will bring relief to township roads this year, says governor

That the people of Ajuwon and Akute, border towns in Iju area between Lagos and Ogun states are literally in distress is no longer news, but most worrisome is the fact that year after year, administration after administration, the area is neglected by the Ogun State government.

They only come up on the map and agenda of government officials during election campaigns and forceful drive for Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). The communities are ensconced by awful and dreadful roads.

While the Lagos State government recently moved its road rehabilitation train to Iju-Ajuwon road linking Ajuwon to Agege and Ikeja, to make it fairly motorable, the Akute-Ajuwon road and the whole stretch from Ajuwon to Alagbole linking to Berger is an eyesore and a study in neglect by elected officials.

For anyone making a shuttle out of the community to any part of Lagos, it is literally regarded as a shuttle from the ‘dark ages’ to ‘civilization’. Only the lucky few elites who drive in air-conditioned SUVs through the bumpy ride manage to escape the hail of dust hanging over the entire area due to the abandoned 32km Sango/Akute/Ajuwon/Ojodu-Abiodun road construction.

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For the mass of residents who hustle their way to town on motorcycles and tricycles, they are left disoriented after having their faces and attires stained with thick dust sometimes mixed with sweat under the scorching sun.

Exactly a year ago, precisely on January 16, 2019, Ogun State governor, then candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dapo Abiodun, while soliciting for votes, had assured residents of border communities in the state of democratic dividends when he becomes governor. The border areas, which Abiodun toured included Isheri, Ojodu Abiodun, Akute, Ajuwon, Ijoko, Agbado among others.

He assured residents of succour to their years of neglect and infrastructural decay if voted to govern the gateway state during his ward to ward campaign tour of Ifo Local Government, State Constituency ll, and when he made a brief stop-over at the palace of Alajuwon of Ajuwon, Oba Nurudeen Rowland Egunsola.

In the next four months, he would mark his first year in office but the people of Akute and Ajuwon are still waiting in limbo for his promised succour. For Mr. Babajide Jaiyeoba, a community leader and chairman of Ajoda Community Development Association (CDA), residents have since resigned to fate over their plight in the area.

“Politicians have destroyed this community and inflicted hardship on us. We don’t know what else to do again. We have begged, cajoled, written petitions, and protested, which has yielded no result. Yet, at every election cycle, they come around and swarm like bees to woo voters. After the elections, they disappear and become inaccessible.”

Alhaja Peju Paraiso blamed the last administration of Senator Ibikunle Amosun for the acute neglect of the area. “It was former governor Gbenga Daniel that did the Alagbole-Gbenro road. If the road construction had not been abandoned, development would not have stalled in this area.

“Many people are moving out in droves for the sake of keeping their sanity and health. Nobody cares for us. The abandoned bridge is now a market square. When I moved into this area 20 years ago, it was like moving to a countryside away from the buzzing city centre but today, it is a tragic experience.

“What even makes our situation worse is that when you have anything to do with government officials and you say you are from Akute, they will ask you ‘where is Akute?’ But left for the local council officials here, they can harass the hell out of you. If you park this road that is so bad and walk away from your car, in the next 20 minutes, council thugs will remove your vehicle number plate and extort money from you.”

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Engineer Abiodun Ibitoye however called for a temporal measure on the Akute-Ajuwon road to serve as palliative in the short-run for residents. “We understand that it is the style of governance here not to continue with projects of the past administration, but the governor should consider making the roads linking to Lagos motorable. Continuing with the abandoned Akute bridge may have its bottleneck because of the process of renegotiation with the Chinese contractors, but in the meanwhile, some quick fixes and palliative can be done to other critical roads like Akute-Ajuwon. And this is the best time to get the roads fixed before the rains come,” he pleaded.

The state governor has, however, said that the development of infrastructure in the state was extremely important to his administration. Dapo Abiodun at a recent function in Abeokuta last December vowed to maintain a policy of zero tolerance for potholes on township roads across the state from the next fiscal year.

According to him, some of the roads earmarked for rehabilitation include Abeokuta South and North township roads, Akute, Ifo, Ewekoro, Odeda, Obafemi Owode-Egba, Mowe-Ibafo township roads, Ijebu-Ode-Ago-Iwoye, Ijebu-Igbo, Ogbere-Iperu-Sagamu, Ogijo, Odogbolu up to Remo township roads. Others are Sango-Ota, Igbesa, Ado-Odo, Agbara, Ilaro-Owode-Yewa, Aiyetoro, Imeko up to Idiroko township roads.

“We have decided that we will not be an administration that will be defined as that which has potholes impeding on its traffic movement. We are also paying attention to township roads and the idea is to begin to phase them out and we’ve begun by choosing those that are most strategic, those that we believe impact our people the most,” he said.

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