By Ilemobola Michael
For many years, the Federal Government-owned Owo-Ikare Road was a dead trap. Commuters, motorists and other users of the busy road incessantly cried to the supervising Federal Ministry of Works in Abuja for intervention in the dilapidated road.
The wailing and agony were not without the loss of lives, valuable properties and productive man hours lost to the poor condition of the road. Eventually, the road became impassable, thus forcing commuters and other users of the road tried to painfully maneuver their ways through the derelict highway to their destination.
Unfortunately, the road users became worst off when they realized that there was no alternative route for them to link Ikare-Akoko, Oba-Akoko, Iwaro-Akoko and other communities in the Northern Senatorial District of Ondo State.
Even worse was the experience of travelers who fell victim to kidnappers who pounced on motorists who were left stranded at bad portions in the Akoko areas of the road. Motorists who are forced to either slow down or in some cases stop as a result of huge pot holes fell victims to the dare-devil men of the underworld.
But in spite of all these devastating challenges and their attendant fear of being abducted along the road by suspected kidnappers, the Federal Ministry of Works, Abuja, seemed to have looked the other way. The motorists’ long wait for the intervention of the supervising Federal Ministry of Works appeared endless. This was after some young graduates have lost cherished man hours on the road and ultimately lost the opportunity to secure their dream jobs.
A 26-year-old Musbau Jimoh, an applicant, was one of such young individuals who had suffered untoward experience on the road. With full of hope, Ajani boarded an Abuja-bound 18-seater passenger bus early in the morning of Wednesday, August 1, 2018, in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, to catch up with an interview scheduled for 2:pm on that day in a company located at the Central Business District of the Federal Capital Territory.
“With all the preparations I had made, the dream of securing my dream job as the sales executive with a company in Abuja became dashed on that day. When the vehicle I boarded got to a particular section of the decrepit Owo-Ikare road, we met about two lorries and a few cars which had already got stuck on the muddy highway.
“This made our journey, which had not been smooth from Owo, to be permanently stopped for the rest of the day because it took tow vehicle operators more than five hours to pull out all the stuck vehicles from the place.
“What made the matter worse was that the first two tow vehicles initially hired by the affected motorists lacked the capacity to pull out the stuck Kano-bound trucks until a bigger one was brought from Lokoja, Kogi State, to rescue them,” Jimoh said.
A trader who deals in vegetables and fruits, Alhja Modinat Alao, suffered a similar fate a week after Jimoh spent a whole day on the road and eventually lost the opportunity of securing his dream job in Abuja.
“The driver of the lorry conveying my vegetables and oranges to Abuja lost control of the vehicle while trying to dodge a big pot hole on the centre of the road and the vehicle fell, emptying the whole vegetables into the mud,” Alhaja Alao said.
The perceived endless suffering and supplication of the motorists and other traders plying the road recently caught the attention of Ondo State governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), who on Monday, October 22, 2018, gave the approval at the state executive meeting that the deplorable road should be immediately rehabilitated to ease the discomfort of the users.
Less than 24 hours after the governor’s approval, contractors mobilized their equipment to the site, giving respite to the already worried users of the road. The productive man hours initially being lost due to the deplorable condition of the road is now gradually reducing.
The hope of plying a smooth Owo-Ikare road in no distant future excited not a few enthusiastic motorists and commuters who praised Governor Akeredolu for what they considered as a major intervention.
One of the commercial bus drivers plying the road, Mr. Johnson Oladehinde, who could not hide his elation when he saw contractors’ bulldozers and other equipment working on the road, hailed the state governor.
Oladeinde expressed the hope that the incessant fear of being kidnapped and forcefully robbed by criminals on the road would become a thing of the past.
“Beside the smooth ride that motorists are bound to enjoy on the road, I am sure kidnappers and other criminal element will have no business on the road,” he said.
Kehinde Ajibade, a final year student of University of Abuja, shared Oladehinde’s optimism, but urged the relevant agency of the state government to thoroughly supervise the contractors.
“With the intervention of the state governor, there is no doubt that many lives and businesses will be saved, But one thing that the state government should do is to thoroughly supervise the contractors,” Kehinde, who had, on no fewer than two occasions fallen victim of armed robbery attack on the road, said.
From all indications, it appears that the state government will not relent in its efforts aimed at fixing the deplorable road for the people’s comfort.
The Ondo State Commissioner for Infrastructure and Works, Mr. Taofeek Abdulsalam, said that because of the importance of the road, Governor Akeredolu’s administration would have embarked on its rehabilitation before now but had to wait for the Federal Government’s approval.
He said: “Just as the Oke Oka menace has now become a thing of the past, we want to assure our people that the Owo-Ikare road will be fixed for the comfort of motorists and other users in no distant future because ours is a responsible government.”