Posted by Kayode Odunaro | 4 November 2013 | 6,268 times
When the administration of Governor Ibikunle Amosun came on board in May 2011, the first indication one had of a government committed to a revolution on our road infrastructure was the tarring of the internal roads in my estate, Sam Ewang Estate in Abeokuta. The estate was built by the state government under Group Captain Sam Ewang in 1998 but was commissioned without road infrastructure like culverts and tarred roads. It was an omission that blighted an otherwise model housing estate with water and electricity. But residents and landlords believed that since government is a continuum, the infrastructure would come in due course. Ewang’s successor, Commodore Kayode Olofin-moyin, who spent barely 10 months in office, was able to construct the culverts in the estate before the dawn of 1999 democratic administration.
In spite of agitation and petitions to the state government nothing was done about the road network in the estate and the residents and houses suffered from the effect of a dusty red earth road in dry seasons and erosion during raining seasons for over a decade. Then the Amosun administration came in and in less than six months completed the internal road of Ewang Estate. As a beneficiary of a “working government” I went public with commendation for an administration that saw a need and quickly fill it to the consternation of some who thought my endorsement came too soon.
But Amosun soon proved that the Ewang estate road was not a flash in the pan. There were other roads that their reconstruction greatly addressed traffic bottlenecks in Abeokuta like the Ibara –Onikolobo Link Road and Agbato Drive in Ogere Remo. In addition, Amosun came out with the now popular policy of “Rebuilding Mission” for the whole of Ogun State that encompasses urban renewal and road construction. Over two years down the line, the paradigm shift effects of the policy on road infrastructure in the state is there for all to see except for some politically blinded few who sees and mouth misplaced priorities, ill timing and displacement of a couple of personal interest that had to give way for the public interest.
Across the state, hitherto unimaginable massive road construction of various dimensions – 6 to proposed 10 lanes – are springing up like mushroom. The flagship among them is the first ever six lanes Ita-Eko-Sokori-Totoro Road and Ibara Round About Flyover. This project which has been completed and commissioned is by all account of international standard with aesthetics that now attract tourists, photo and video shoot. Other roads that are at various stages of completion or ongoing include the 107km Ilara/Egua/Ijoun/Oja-Odan Road which cuts across four local governments in Ogun West Senatorial District;10km Ayetoro-Olodo Road; Mobalufon/Ejinrin/Folagbade Road in Ijebu-Ode; Oba Erinwole Road/Kara/Isale-Oko Road in Sagamu; as well as Ilisan-Ago-Iwoye Road; Ojere/Onikolobo/Panseke Road; Omida/Sapon Road; Enu Gada/Ago-Iba/Itoku/Sapon/Ijaiye/Iyana Mortuary Road and NNPC-MKO Abiola Road, among others. The government is also about completing flyovers at Sagamu and Ijebu Ode that are even more outstanding than the one at the state capital.
These roads and flyovers are conceptualised as to address not only present traffic challenges but future and predictable needs of a rapidly growing society in addition to their aesthetic effect on a blighted urban landscape that the state is used to. One has heard the governor explain this as “Ogun Standard”, an insistence that the best quality money can buy is what is good for the state. Certainly, these roads are built to last for generations if properly maintained and are addressing the erosion and flooding menace which parts of the state, particularly the state capital, Abeokuta, have experienced in recent years. One sees the giant culverts that accompanied these roads as a proactive way of addressing flooding and erosion besetting the state with the culverts serving as channels for flood water.
The economic growth attraction of these road infrastructures cannot be overemphasised. Most investors, local and foreign, usually have a re-think of their investment plans once they factor in the poor and dilapidated road networks whose construction dates backs to decades ago. It is apparent that those roads were meant for a forgone economic era. The Amosun road infrastructure is a big incentive for investors in industry and real estate now and in the future. One is of the opinion that such multi billion naira investment like the Dangote Cement in Ibeshe, would have come earlier if the Papalanto-Ilaro-Ibeshe Road was built according to “Ogun Standard” when it was built. Today that federal road remains a sore point of an otherwise lucrative investment in the state. Also the 107-kilometre Ilara-Oja-Odan Road when completed in Ogun West senatorial axis of the state will have very salutary effect on the agricultural and other development along that international border area of Ogun state.
For those who argue that these roads are misplaced priorities, I am sorry to inform them that they are myopic in their conception of overall economic development geared towards the greatest number of citizens and not just some unsustainable personal interests masquerading as urgent needs. For these people, the multi-lanes Ikorodu Express in Lagos State would have been a misplaced priority at the time it was built by General Yakubu Gowon. For those who know, before that road was constructed, going from Lagos to Ijebu Ode was usually a day’s journey! But even now the road is inadequate for the vehicular traffic it handles most times.
If delivery of democracy dividends is about projects that have positive effects on majority of the people, then Amosun is delivering it for not only Ogun state citizens now and in the future but all Nigerians and foreigners that may want to exploit business opportunities in the “Gateway State”. Of course, one is aware of similar business unusual approach in other areas like health, education and agriculture but Amosun roads and bridges standout for special attention in their immediate and future usefulness in economic development. Their economic nature now as opposed to prioritising them for future is also worthy as we postpone it at a huge future cost. One hopes he continues to find the fund for these projects as they are the way to go.
•Kayode Odunaro (email@example.com) writes from 125 Olusegun Osoba Road, Abeokuta. Photo shows Governor Amosun.
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