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Commuters battle hard times on Owo-Akure Federal Road

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Rough ride through Araromi failed spot along Akure/Owo Federal road<br />

Road users who ply Akure/Owo Expressway in Ondo State are in for tough times like Christmas and New Year celebrations are fast approaching, mainly due to bad portions of the road.

For years, the Federal roads in the state have been in bad shape, leading to hardship for commuters, as well as cause damage to vehicles. 

Residents of Oba-Ile and Owo towns, whose township roads have become emergency by-pass for vehicles plying Akure/Owo/Ikare Federal road, have raised the alarm that their lives are in danger. 

A mother of three, Mrs. Yemisi Adeleye, lamented the increased traffic along their township roads, revealing that the situation has posed a lot of danger to the lives and properties.

She said: “Since this road at Araromi junction became bad, drivers have been passing our road here. There is increasing traffic as vehicles, even very big trailers and trucks have abandoned the bad expressway.”

Adeleye mentioned that the most fearful part is that vehicles drive through the Oba-Ile township road at very high speed, noting that their kids and wards are at a high risk of being knocked down. 

According to her, “Now that Christmas and New Year are here and our wards will soon vacate for holiday, we are living daily in fear.”

A regular commuter passing through the road, Mr. Femi Jenyo, decried the detestable state of the road and the untold hardship he and other passengers go through daily.

Jenyo, a staff of one of the tertiary institutions in Owo, Owo Local Government Area of the state and hometown of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, lamented the poor condition of the road and the negative implications on the economy of the people. 

He said: “For instance, I live in Akure and work in Owo; so, I travel this route twice every day. A journey that is less than 40 minutes, sometimes we spend more than four to five hours if there are spoilt trucks on the way.

“I used to go to work in my car, but when the road became very bad, I had to park my car at home and travel in a commercial vehicle. Any time I risked it, I have to visit a mechanic workshop for repairs. You can imagine the inconveniences.”

He also revealed that the bad state of the road unavoidably leads to an increase in transport fare at the public parks and passengers bear the brunt.

“How on earth will anybody blame the drivers? I have a car and I know the cost implication of plying a vehicle on such bad road as Akure/Owo, which is nothing but a death trap and money-siphoning route,” he said.

Jenyo, who added that there should be an emergency response measures from the government to mitigate the effects on people, said: “How long shall we wait for the Federal Government to fix the road. I think the state government and people living in that area should find an alternative way out.”

However, the Ondo State government, in whose territory the Federal road is located, has tried severally to patch failed portions but the more it tried, the more the road gets worse due to heavy traffic. 

Aside being an intra-communal route to some communities around Akure and Owo metropolis, it is one of the busiest inter-state and inter-region routes in the country, linking the Southwest to the North and Southsouth geo-political zones.

There are too many potholes and several failed portions, which lead to diversion from the major road to bush paths and other intra-town roads with low traffic, causing more havoc to the new emergency routes and the people living therein. 

On the outskirts of Akure, especially at Benin-Owena River Basin Development Authority, Araromi Akure (Permanent site), few metres away from Oba Ile Airport junction, half of the road has caved in, leaving a narrow pathway. 

Vehicles, at this spot, had to queue in order to pass as there is no right of way, while those coming from Akure or driving from Owo and are aware of the spot, pass through Oba-Ile township road. 

Another deadly spot is between the Emure/Owo and Ikare junction, where the road has caved in totally and heavy-duty trucks are often stuck, leading to interminably long gridlock in the area. 

For some time now, commercial and private vehicles coming from the north and Edo axis have been diverting from the bad portions that spanned through Rufus Giwa Polytechnic Owo to pass within the town to Emure Junction. While those coming from Lagos through Ilesa/Akure Expressway veer through Emure Junction to Ikare Junction, dodging the same bad portions. 

Narrating her ordeals on the road, Mrs. Olajumoke Johnson, a trader, who goes to Jebba to buy foodstuff and cattle, said the frustration experienced on the road also put them in harm’s way and expose them to dangers. 

She said: “A few days ago, a big trailer spoilt on the road and we spent several hours on this road; some people even slept for days on the road. At a point, we had to create new routes in the bush so that we can get our goods out of the spot. 

“Our losses in this process are uncountable sometimes. Most of the goods we buy from the North are perishable goods like pepper, tomatoes, watermelon, etc. Some cattle dealers even lost some of their cows in the process.”

Mrs. Johnson revealed that there were instances when armed robbers and suspected herdsmen create an opportunity to attack commuters who are stranded on the road. 

“Now that Christmas and New Year festivals are fast approaching, we are living in fear to pass these routes to buy goods. And if urgent measure is not put in place, it may lead to scarcity of food this season,” she said.

Meanwhile, some weeks ago, the Ondo State government announced that it had concluded plans to rehabilitate Araromi Junction along Akure/Owo/Ilesa Federal road.

This came barely a week after promising to fix abandoned and deplorable Federal roads across the state. The Ministry of Works and Infrastructure actually did some work but abandoned it halfway. 

Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Saka Yusuf Ogunleye, said the blocked/silted drainage was desilted for free flow of water through the drainage in a bid to stop spillover water across the road. 

According to him, appropriate equipment was used to evacuate the soggy surface so as to enhance smooth running on the road, while boulders were deposited to stabilise portions. 

Ogunleye, who assured that the road was going to be put in usable form within few days, said: “For the umpteenth time, I have to say Governor Akeredolu was voted to improve this state in all ramifications. 

“Our people are the ones plying this road. It will be improper to let it get damaged because it is a Federal road. If we fold our hands they will continue to experience untold hardship. That is not going to be allowed to happen. We are praying for fair weather to enable us to fix it fast and appropriately,” he said, noting that the state government wanted the road rehabilitated in a very short time to prevent trucks carrying heavy goods/loads from using the Airport/Obaile road as an alternative.

He added that the road linking Bolorunduro, Akure North Local Government Area to the expressway would also be repaired as soon as possible.
 
He said: “People of this community communicated the Ministry about their plight. We are here to see things for ourselves. This is an eyesore. Being a listening and responsive government this road will be in shape within a few days.”

Few days, as promised by the Commissioner, have come and gone, yet the failed portions are becoming worse as seen during a visit to the site by our correspondent showed that the work was abandoned. 

But the Works Commissioner, Yusuf, explained that the Direct Labour Department, which is used by the state to fix the road, had to mobilise from Araromi spot of the road to attend to another urgent spot in Ondo West Local Government Area. 

He said: “We are only attending to the failed portion there and it is not the responsibility of the state to do Federal roads. It is because it is the people of Ondo State that ply that road and it is in our state. We want to make life comfortable for our people.”

He noted that the state government is not only rehabilitating Araromi spot but also Isuada, Ikare Junction, Ipele, Valentino Ondo and other Federal roads in the state. 

He added: “As I speak to you, we are working on Valentino, Federal road to Ife in Ondo. FERMA ought to have attended to those roads, but because they failed in their responsibility, we have no choice than to take them up.”

Speaking on the stoppage of the work along Akure/Owo road, he said: “It is because we have urgent ones that need to be attended to. The same department attending to it, that is our Direct Labour, are the same people working at Valentino Junction. 

“It is about giving priority, we will come back to that one. I was at Isuada two days ago till 7pm. As soon as we leave Ondo, we will go back to Akure/Owo and other parts of the Federal roads that need urgent attention in the state,” Yusuf added.


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