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Necessity for street light on Benin Airport Road

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Benin Airport Road. Photo/Youtube

Sir: Years of neglect of the lightning-up project of airport road, a long stretch of road with large traction of socioeconomic activities at the heart of the Benin City of Edo State, have made residents and businesses vulnerable to criminal attacks.

The Airport Road leads from the NTA station in Benin City, into Adesogbe Road and continues from the Palace of the Oba of Benin; and as you veer to your right, leads to the airport, Ogba Zoo in Benin City, Edo State. It is one of the most important business centres in Benin City.

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But apart from the palace where solar street lights were erected by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, in 2020, once it is night, darkness descends on the Airport Road. Respondents said the road has become a red spot and a rendezvous for criminals. From the airport towards the zoo, residents and visitors are often mugged, robbed, and attacked, people interviewed said. A representative of a leading hotel on that road who does not want his name in print said that there has been a reduction in patronage.

While some business owners with the capacity have erected their own solar-powered lights, this has not had a far-reaching effect. Prevailing darkness on the road presents other challenges for the teeming commuters of the road.

According to documents obtained from the website of Edo State Public Procurement Agency, EDPPA, on February 14, 2020, Certificate of Compliance February 2020 – Edo State Public Procurement Agency, the Godwin Obaseki administration awarded a contract for the “retrofitting and completion works on airport road street lights.”

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The documents showed that bidders had been earlier sought in the Vanguard Newspaper of October 28, 2019; and a bid winner emerged.

An FOI request sent to the commissioner of works and the state government in March on the abandoned road project has not been replied to. The chief of staff with former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, also declined comments when asked about the alleged N13 billion spent to rehabilitate and provide for street lights on the Airport Road. 

The Edo State Public Procurement Agency also said, in response to an FOI in March 2021, that it was merely a regulatory body and that the newly created Ministry of Energy and Electricity was responsible for processing bids. 

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For a six-kilometre road like the airport road, about 334 of those PCs will be needed with installation time just over a two-week period. According to a solar services provider, SSP, solar street lights can cost anywhere from $1, 850 to $5,000, depending on the needs of the system.

Bob Majiri Oghene Etemiku produced this as part of the Udeme project, a social accountability and transparency project of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ).

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