Building new roads in the Sunshine State
By Babatunde Ayedoju
As far back as the human mind can imagine, road has been an integral part of life for man. There has always been a need for people to move from one place to another, with road transportation being one of the oldest, if not the oldest. Though people can travel by rail, sea and air, road appears to be the easiest. Moreso, more than a few stories we know about the early man reveal more of transportation by road than any other means.
Obviously, transportation by air and by rail came as a result of advancement in technology, and such technology has only been with us for a few centuries. On the other hand, transportation by sea or river is dependent on the geographical area, and has always required a measure of technological advancement, however little it may be. Whereas, road transport can be as easy as simply trekking, though advancement in technology has brought means of transportation such as bicycle, motorcycle and vehicle.
Road as a means of transportation has undergone metamorphosis from bush tracks to modern-day tarred roads. Via roads, goods and people are transported from one place to the other with ease, thereby aiding commerce and development.
Unfortunately, most of the time, our roads in Nigeria are full of potholes that make journeys dangerous and stressful.
The length and breadth of Nigeria are full of dilapidated roads that are either abandoned or badly fixed, thereby endangering lives of commuters and their goods. From time to time, there are reports of government spending so much constructing or fixing roads, yet the roads remain in their bad state.
The people of Ondo State have had their fair share of both good and bad experiences on roads across the state. For example, there have been sad tales about roads such as Ile Anu, Idanre Road, Aule, Airways, Oyemekun, Danjuma Bypass, Shagari/Irese and several others in Akure.
Likewise, roads such as Pelebe, Ilekun, Weliweli, Ijigba and Aye in Oda Road, Akure, were thorns in the flesh of road users who had to endure so much dust when making use of the roads.
Akure-Ondo Road, especially around Owena axis, had been another troublesome spot prone to traffic gridlock that tended to make travellers stranded, with vehicles trapped in the water-logged section of the road. Many drivers lamented that such an ugly situation always damaged their vehicles and made those vehicles to age quickly, aside the huge sums of money they had to spend on repairs.
The late Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s administration embarked on projects such as the dualisation of Ikare township road, construction of Oke Alabojuto road, Jubilee/Ugbe road, Ikaram-Akunnu road, and Ikaram-Oke Agbe road among others.
Likewise, the governor, Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa, last month, ordered road contractors back to site. Mr Governor, who spoke in a meeting between the contractors and Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, headed by the Permanent Secretary, Allen Idowu, promised that all ongoing infrastructural projects in the state would be completed as scheduled.
The permanent secretary in the ministry said the contractors were ready to meet up with the deadline set by the governor, adding that officials of the ministry had been mobilised to play their parts.
The targeted projects included the completion of Owo township dualization, completion of Oba Osupa – Oluwatuyi – Ijoka (Akure) dualization, completion of Oda dual carriage (Akure), completion of Akure flyover (Onyearugbulem-Shagari-Irese), construction of 15.89km selected roads in Ondo township, construction of Arigidi – Ogbagi Akoko road, construction of internal roads in Olusegun Agagu University of Technology, Okitipupa, construction of Emure-Ile – Eporo road, rehabilitation/Asphalt overlay of 18.65 selected roads in Akure, construction of selected roads in Akungba Akoko.
Others are construction of selected roads in Igbobini, Ilaje, reconstruction of Oritaobele junction – Okeodu, with spur to Ipinsa road/Maronu street, rehabilitation/reconstruction of Alagbaka GRA roads, rehabilitation of Bolorunduro – Fagbo Road, and so on.
Professor Simon Ehiabhi from the Department of History and International Studies, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, said that though roads in Nigeria are generally bad, some roads in Ondo State are exception. He said, “The major road in my immediate environment here in Akoko is okay. It has been rehabilitated and is standard enough to ease the movement of goods and persons.
“I may not be able to speak about what is obtainable in other parts of the State, but in my immediate environment I can give a score of 80 percent,” he added.
On the other hand, Professor Adedayo Afe, also from the Department of History and International Studies, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, said that the condition of roads in Ondo State, generally, has been bad. He said that while Ondo-Akure and Owo-Akure roads had been among the best in the past, there has been nothing to write home about those roads recently, adding that the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) has not been performing up to expectation due to poor materials that are used during road construction.
The Professor of Legal History appealed for more government intervention on roads linking rural areas with urban areas, to ease the movement of farm produce, saying, “Without good roads, agricultural development will be a mirage.”
Mokesioluwa Peter, a business man who lives in Oke-Ogba in Akure, said, “In my area here in Oke Ogba, Ondo Road axis, the condition of roads is obviously positive. Over the past few months, there hasn’t been a significant need for renovation as the existing infrastructure has been well-maintained. Commuters, including myself, have experienced relatively smooth journeys with minimal disruptions due to road quality issues. This suggests that the government’s previous investments in road maintenance have been effective in ensuring the durability and functionality of the transportation network in our locality.
“Although I haven’t observed any ongoing construction projects aimed at renovating the roads, this doesn’t necessarily indicate neglect or lack of attention from the authorities. Instead, it could imply that the roads were constructed or renovated recently enough to still be in satisfactory condition.”
While pointing out that there is room for improvement, Mr Peter stressed the need for government to embark on periodic maintenance of existing road infrastructure, to improve on their quality.
In the words of Kayode Oguntoye, a development practitioner, “I stayed in Oda for a while and the road was bad. At a point when the government decided to fix it, we felt relieved and everybody was happy, but it’s taking them too long to fix a few kilometres of road, not minding the challenges associated with fixing a road. Anytime you want to fix a road, you have to excavate, leading to dust and some of the people plying the roads have health challenges. Imagine the impact of the dust they inhale daily on their health.”
Oguntoye suggested that beyond the fact that roads are bad, the government should look into the time it takes to fix these roads. His words: “We are going into rainy season now. As they are working on the road, let’s hope it won’t take long. Actually, there should be a timeline for a project like this. When it is prolonged, it affects the economy because dust will hinder people along the road from going about their businesses.”
Mr Ayobami Oduola, a lot man who lives in Ijigba, described the condition of roads in his neighbourhood as very bad. While noting that residents had tried their best to attend to the roads but their best was not good enough, he appealed to the government to intervene as soon as possible.