In its bid to rebuild Ogun State, the Senator Ibikunle Amosun-led administration lays emphasis on the provision of a good road network as a catalyst for development
He could not hide his surprise. For many years, he had lived and worked in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. That was until he relocated to the United Kingdom, UK, about five years ago. In spite of that, he still makes it a point to visit the country at least once or twice a year. And each time he does that, Adesanmi Onasanya stays at his residence in the Ita Eko area of Abeokuta.
He made one of such trips to Abeokuta in April 2011 a few days after the governorship election in Nigeria. One year after, Onasanya is once again visiting and he could not believe what he saw. As he approached his residence, Onasanya thought he was being taken somewhere else. “I couldn’t believe we were driving along the same Ibara–Ita Eko–Sokori–Totori Road,” he said. And he sure has good reason to be so surprised. The road, as he used to know it, was a two-lane narrow road riddled with several potholes in the heart of Abeokuta.
But things have since changed. Today, it is a six-lane carriageway with pedestrian sidewalks, greenery, modern bus stops, pedestrian bridge and drainage. The 2.4 kilometre road now stands as a testament to the determination of the Ibikunle Amosun-led administration in Ogun State to ensure the urban renewal and industrialisation of the gateway state. It, however, did not end there. Onasanya was also pleasantly surprised to see the construction of the first-ever Grade Separation Fly Over Bridge at Ibara Roundabout. In the past, the roundabout had been a source of worry for many residents of Abeokuta as it was always congested and accident-prone.
When completed, the flyover bridge, says Olamilekan Adegbite, the state commissioner for works, “will reduce traffic congestion and accidents at the ever-busy Ibara Junction.” Adegbite further explained why the likes of Onasanya would be surprised at the pace of work being done in Ogun State. “Prior to the advent of this administration, infrastructural decay was the order of the day,” he said. He added that in its bid to rebuild the state, the Amosun administration decided to lay emphasis on the provision of good road networks as a catalyst for socio-economic development. “On assumption of office, maintenance and rehabilitation of bad roads were embarked upon to reduce travel time and ease the burden of road users. Roads hitherto abandoned or inaccessible were made motorable,” Adegbite said.
And it could not have been otherwise. “Immediately the governor was sworn in, I came to Abeokuta with him and what we found immediately was a state capital in total disrepair, especially as far as road infrastructure is concerned. We came here in May just at about the onset of the major rainy season and all the roads were impassable. This was largely due to neglect and lack of maintenance, ditto for other major cities in Ogun State. We found the same situation in Ijebu Ode, Sagamu, Ijebu Igbo, Ago-Iwoye, Ilaro and Owode – it was the same story. The road infrastructure had been totally neglected. Some of them had actually expired because roads do have lifespan; roads are generally designed for 25 to 30 years and ought to have been re-done,” explained Adegbite.
Faced with this sort of situation and realising the importance of roads in economic activities, the state government decided to focus on roads and within a short period of time, it fixed some of them. “The first target we set for ourselves is that within the first 100 days of the administration, we are going to achieve maximum effect. The idea was that within the first 100 days, let’s make as many roads as possible motorable. This we set out to do and the governor empowered us. Now because of the limitations of fund, we concentrated on the major cities first within these 100 days. We made so many roads motorable within Abeokuta, Ijebu Ode, Ota, Ilaro and Sagamu. Most of these were palliatives, like patching the pot holes,” said Amosun.
To make this happen, Adegbite said the state set up about 15 pothole work gangs. Every morning, the work gangs are given materials like asphalt, rollers, cutters and other materials, and they set off to the different areas of the state and the mandate was that wherever they see potholes, they cut it out, fill it with asphalt and roll it. That way they make it motorable.
Using this strategy, Adegbite said by the time the administration was marking its first 100 days in office, “we were able to beat our chest and show the work we had done. Within the 100 days, we touched nothing less than 25 roads within the Abeokuta metropolis and to a lesser extent in other places like Ijebu Ode, Ilaro, Ota and other areas.” This much was achieved by incorporating the Ogun State Roads Maintenance Agency, OGROMA, into the state ministry of works and using them to handle a lot of the rehabilitation work.
As things turned out, this was just the beginning of greater things to come. “We have not relented since then. We have identified a total of 22 roads all over the state that we needed to reconstruct fully. The first one we did out of these is the Ibara–Ita Eko–Oke Sokori–Totoro road which is a six-lane highway with all the modern facilities that you can think of,” Adegbite said.
He added that the road was chosen because it is about the shortest one of all the roads. “It was supposed to be a test case, a learning curve for us and I must say that we learnt a lot of lessons from there. We had to demolish a number of houses and pay compensations. So it was a good testing ground and a learning place for us,” continued Adegbite. Moving with the lessons learnt on the Ibara–Ita Eko–Oke Sokori–Totoro road, Adegbite said the state government has since gone ahead to award the reconstruction of the 32-kilometre Sango–Ijoko–Agbado–Oke Aro–Akute–Ojodu–Abiodun road into a four-lane carriageway. Work has since commenced on that road project.
“We have also done major reconstruction like the road from Ilaro to Owode that had gone really bad and the people of Ilaro complained about it. This is a federal highway and of course we spoke with the federal people and they said there was no funding for it. Meanwhile the governor could not just leave it like that, especially because many people in the state will not know that it is a federal road. So the governor asked us to move to that road,” Adegbite explained. Beyond that, he said the state government has done not less than 10 kilometres of roads within the two towns of Ilaro and Owode.
In the same vein, Adegbite said the Amosun-led administration had also worked on the bad portion of the Lagos–Abeokuta expressway around Joju junction just before the Sango flyover bridge. There, he said, the state government had to apply palliatives by filling the bad portions of the road. “That portion of the road was very bad and we had to do palliatives there. We had to fill out all the big holes there with big boulders. We graded it and made it smooth. We also did some work on the Lagos–Ibadan expressway. There is a particularly bad portion about half a kilometre stretch around the Redemption Camp. It was also very bad and people were complaining of being held there for several hours. So we moved in there and worked on that. There we had to do full asphalting. I think for about half a kilometre stretch, we had to spend about N15 million on that,” said the commissioner for works.
As far as state roads are concerned, the Amosun-led administration has also not relented. “We also went on doing state roads. For instance, towards the Ojude Oba festival which was something that the ministry of culture and tourism took up, we moved to Ijebu Ode fully and within about three to four weeks we were able to rehabilitate about 20 roads fully asphalted. Since then we have done a few other roads in Ijebu Ode, Sagamu and then we are also on some major roads that link many communities like the one that goes from Ijebu Ode to Itele, Ijebu Ife, Ijebu Mushin. We have also worked on that road,” Adegbite said.
Other roads and projects constructed through direct labour within the state in the last one year include OGBC-Ibara Housing Estate–Onikolobo road; internal roads within the Sam Ewang Estate; drainage construction at Fassy Yusuf Street; Olomore Housing Estate roads; access roads leading to Owu Central Mosque which in fact is the first interlocking stone pavement road in the state and the Quarry–Surulere–Ita Eko, among others.
In the last one year, the Amosun-led administration has also embarked on flood and erosion control projects to arrest ecological disasters at locations like Abiola Way–Leme Junction; Abiola Way–Olorunsogo area; Gbangba Ijaiye; Imeko-Afon Road; Lewu community; Ijebu Ode; Molipa Expressway; Elega-Mokola-Ago Odo-Ago Oka Road; Denro-Isasi-Akute Road as well as Alabata Road.
In spite of these achievements within the space of one year, Adegbite said the Amosun-led administration is not resting on its laurels. The current administration in Ogun State, he said, “is on a mission to rebuild Ogun State and to restore the state to its premier place of pride in the country and comity of decent societies.” This, he said, is the passion of the governor. “This is what we are doing so that even after this administration leaves office, there will be continuity, we would have left a culture of maintenance. That is the kind of legacy I want to leave behind,” Adegbite said.