#Features

Two years of massive infrastructure upgrade in Ondo

By Adetokunbo Abiola
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Since the inception of the Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s administration two years ago, the Governor and his team have embarked on a mission to renew the allure in the state’s cities, towns and communities. It embarked on massive upgrades of road infrastructure, over 511 dilapidated primary schools buildings renovation and it also recorded massive improvement in providing potable water, electricity to various communities that have suffered these amenities across the state.

The government has cleared about seven months backlog of salaries and pensions arrears it inherited after assumption of office  that had long been owed them. The government is also living up to its promises not to owe salaries. The Governor has since been paying promptly and despite the economic crunch, has not retrenched a single worker. He has been promoting workers that were due for promotions as well.

The Governor said: “In terms of the welfare of workers in this state, we have done our best. No state has done better than us because we believe a worker deserves his pay.”

According to the governor, the wages of government workers who are less than five per cent of the population — take 90 per cent of revenues accruable to the state.

In the 2019 budget, civil servants in the state also have access to N500 million housing loans.

The  unprecedented infrastructural development in the state inlude the construction of 5.25km Ile-Oluji township road.

There were also massive road constructions at Oke-Ogba, Gaga in Akure and in Ikare and other areas.

Another major road project are the CBN-Alagbaka and “A” Division – NEPA Road, Akure where the road construction has reached over 90% completion. The governor has expressed satisfaction over the level of work done. He said the project is been executed in segments. He said: ” We are constructing this road in segment . This segment will be completed in the first two weeks in March. When are able to finish a segment , we move to another segment. The next segment will be from NEPA to Olukayode roundabout.

The Igbara Oke-Ibuji road is an important route which connects the State with other neighbouring states of Osun and Ekiti.

Besides, in Oke Aro, Akure, Ondo State also flagged off the reconstruction of a bridge in the community.

The bridge project had been in the pipeline for a long time and was recently approved assented to by the governor.

The bridge and the road if tarred would ease the congestion on the Idanre road as the road would be an access road for those crossing to Oshinle and Ijoka roads.

As part of measures to boost grassroots development, the government also commenced grading of street roads in Ese-Odo communities across the council area.

 The road projects will allow unhindered access to the communities, it will also allow the people to have access to their farms and houses.”

Also, the waterways are being cleared of dirt, debris and hyacinths so as to encourage fishing activities and to promote efficient water transportation in riverine area.

Clearing of the waterways from dirts , debris, hyacinths and other non-renewable items will help to reduce accident, provide efficient water transportation and enhance the fishing, activities of the fishers.

The contract for the construction of the 51 kilometers Araromi-Seaside-Lekki-Lagos road which has the potential of turning around the economic fortunes of Ondo State has also been  be awarded.

The Araromi-Seaside-Lekki project, will link Ondo State with Lagos which will add serious advantages to the economy of Ilaje and the State in general.

When the road is completed, it is going to open Ondo to Lagos which is the commercial hub of Nigeria. Lagos has a huge market, and huge population, so any state linked with Lagos will have a great advantage and that is what Ogun state is leveraging upon.

So the state is taking advantage of the proximity to Lagos where it can share just about 30 kilometers from Araromi to Lekki. So the road is going to improve exponentially the economy of Ilaje local government and the entire State.

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That means somebody coming from Onitsha or Benin city needs not go through the long journey again but via off Ore to Igbokoda and in less than one and a half hours, you are already in Lagos. This saves a lot of travel time.

Residents of Bolorunduro, headquarters of Ondo East local government area of Ondo State could not hide their joy as they have given kudos to Governor Akeredolu for  constructing the long abandoned road in the area.

The residents, majorly farmers, appreciated the Governor for fulfilling his campaign promise to the people and putting smiles on their faces.

One of the residents, Mr Olufunso Ademukolu said the Construction of the Bolorunduro road is evidential testimony of the Governor’s determination to implement all his campaign promises.

More importantly, the on-going first ever flyover bridge project in Ore is capable of enhancing economic turnaround of the Southern Senatorial District when completed.

The flyover bridge will boost the economic status of the commercial town when completed and also reduce the incessant road accidents at the spot.

The governor has given the people a lease of life after their properties were demolished to give room for the flyover through adequate payment of compensation to encourage them to start up again, which is a welcome development.

Since the flag-off of the project, work has started and is ongoing and it is sure that people are happy with the project. The project will improve the economic development of Ore community and its environs.

The State Government has also rehabilitated the old Lagos-Benin expressway and Ore township road from Mobil junction to Sabo junction.

In the area of water provision, the Akeredolu’s Administration also came with a firm resolve to ensure that the people have access to potable water, an effort lauded by the Minister of Water Resources, Engr Suleiman Adamu, over the commissioning of Kamomi Aketi Accelerated Water Scheme at Ayede-Ogbese in Akure North Local Government and several others council areas.

The Ogbese water scheme has the capacity to provide 100,000 litres of potable water with 160 fetching points for the people of Ayede Ogbese.

The consequences of lack of access to water and sanitation included economic losses, high prevalence of water-related diseases, reduced school enrolment and attendance, loss of dignity, increased risks of insecurity and violence against women and children.

Water is life and has no substitute. However, our country today still has significant challenges of access to adequate Water supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (Wash).

Recent statistics from the WASH-NORM (National Outcome Routine Mapping) survey indicated that about 67.9 percent of our population have access to improved water supply from all sources while 41.5 percent have access to basic sanitation facilities.

Furthermore, about 25 percent of our population practice open defecation and this makes our country number two in rank amongst all nations still practising open defecation in the world.

However, the Minister of Water Resources encouraged the State Government to include provision of sanitation facilities in the public places in the programme so as to make Ondo State Open Defecation Free (ODF) by 2025 which is the target year for ODF in our country.

Over 3,000 communities across the eighteen local government areas of Ondo State are to benefit from the water scheme called”Kamomi,Aketi Water Scheme” .

The government has set up teams to take inventory, evaluate, and carry out the need assessment of all the existing water points in the state and rectify the problems.

In the education sector, the government seems to have mastered everything about academic improvement, and one of the ways it achieved this is through renovation of schools, putting students into well-designed buildings stocked with computers and other appurtenances of technology.

The belief of the the state education planners is that renovated schools influence children’s perception about learning, giving them the inspiration to do better every time.

It is not surprising that Ondo State Government is following this trend, pumping billions upon billions of naira into renovation of schools, so pupils in the state primary and secondary schools can do better in their examinations.

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The thinking is that schools in the state don’t have to be dilapidated, weather-beaten and wretched-looking, relics of the Mongo Park era, having jagged roof tops, broken walls, and a stuffy environment.

Past administrations have walked through the same path, but the Akeredolu-led government is taking new strides in the direction, re-writing the trajectory of public institutions once rejected by anxious parents whose confidence is about to be restored towards patronising public schools.

Last year, the administration had renovated over 511 schools under SUBEB, a fact revealed by the governor during a courtesy visit by the Ikota Progressive Union from Ifedore Local Government Area of the state.

During the occasion, the governor said he wasn’t establishing new schools but renovating the existing ones to a better standard.

He then revealed that SUBEB would soon commerce another round of interventions, adding that SUBEB had renovated over 30 secondary schools in Ifedore Local Government area.

Essentially, the administration wanted to act differently from the previous ones, which was said to have abandoned public secondary schools for eight years, concentrating on the construction of Primary Mega schools.

The general belief is that though the Mega schools initiative was a thoughtful one, the institutions were largely been underutilized, creating the need to put some focus on public schools once again.

Before starting schools’ renovation, the governor had taken a good look at the existing infrastructure of the sector and had not liked what he saw on the ground.

He had decried what he described as an embarrassing state of public schools and expressed his administration’s determination to develop the sector and make it an envy of other states in the country.

He believed that through such a development, the state stood a realistic chance of achieving its quest for technological development.

“Education defines the quality of human existence. The training of human beings is for the benefit of the society.

“Our government, our party and our people look up to us for the development of our vast knowledge and wealth of experience to salvage the basic education sector from collapse,” the governor had said.

He said government on its part would continue to engage all sectors, insisting on the best practices in the discharge of its mandate to serve the people, vowing that his administration would not be distracted by issues extraneous to the well-being of the people.

“The welfare of the masses shall continue to be the guiding principle of our administration. In this regard, the government will not tolerate any frivolity,” he said.

“We expect renovation work on dilapidated structure, in our entire primary and secondary schools to commerce in earnest. We anticipate supervision of projects in this regard. No contractor should hope to receive a certificate of performance for any shoddy job. This administration will hold consultants and appointees vicariously liable for any bad job.

The projects included the construction of 76 containerised toilets and boreholes across the 18 council areas of the state.

“We will get them completed because we have been paying contractors as and when due. I am sure they are speeding up the work,” Odu had said.

She had stated then that the project was a total package in every local government, with at least 20 ongoing, adding that about 90% of it had been completed.

She stated that the cost implication was about N7.8billion inclusive of the counterpart fund and the one contributed by the state government.

But Governor Akeredolu was not done on the issue of renovating schools in the state, as secondary schools had problems with their infrastructure.

Not unlike those of primary schools, they were almost at the point of dilapidation and needed to be renovated, so that students could be inspired to do well at their examinations.

But the Akeredolu administration did not want to rest on its oars, so it decided to commence the renovation of secondary schools as well.

The problem with secondary schools then was that the state had not been able to access funds that would ensure renovation, but the governor surmounted the problem, as his administration approved access to the one billion naira budgetary provision dedicated to the project across the three senatorial districts of the state.

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Another major sector the government has recorded great feat is the industrialisation of the state with the proposed Port of Ondo which would serve as a West African Port, and would change the landscape of the state when completed.

The Port of Ondo is the only valuable deep seaport Nigeria could have as one of the states with the deepest coastlines.

The government is also embarking on Gas Plant to tackle epileptic power supply and ensure the industrial hubs the state is creating do not suffer power supply.

“I assure you, we will have the Port declaration before the end of the year. The report has established its viability and bankability.

“Our dream for this port in Ondo State is to serve as a conduit for our goods, agricultural produce and very soon, our Bitumen.

“It is the goal of this administration to ensure that the potentials of the State is maximised and that all necessary infrastructure required to make this a reality is put in place to achieve this,” Akeredolu said.

The governor further said his administration would pursue the Port relentlessly, for the future generation and not for the present times.

“There must be a beginning. We have started and no going back. The goal is clear, we will capitalize and maximise on the coastline which is the deepest in Nigeria,” he said.

Akeredolu listed some of the benefits of the Port to include opening of the State to the world and access to the hinterland of Nigeria and significant employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths in the state.

Others, according to the Governor are acquisition of new skills for the labour force while government will benefit from project sharing with the concessionaries as well as increased IGR.

Akeredolu also mentioned infrastructural development as part of the advantages, adding that it will complement the state’s Free Trade Zone, thereby facilitating global transit of goods and equipment in and out of Ondo State.

The proposed Port, when completed, would have multiplier effects of higher indirect job opportunities.

The Port would attract Free Trade Zone, Shipping of port activities, enhancement of community roads and provision of sufficient traffic and businesses to justify the Port development.

The underutilized mineral resource in the state would be explored, exploited and exported for foreign exchange which would also boost the economy of the state.

This is why the State Government has reiterated its commitment to ensure that the much awaited bitumen development in the state come to fruition without rancour between the host communities and the investors.

The government is highly committed to peaceful exploitation of the bitumen resources in the state, noting that a similar interactive session had been carried out in Irele local government.

The modalities for evolving effective environmental protection strategies that the license bitumen companies must comply with, is being worked out.

While assuring the royal fathers and the community leaders in the host area that their views would be adequately captured and implemented to the best level of practice as the process move forward, he said there are immense benefits the development of bitumen will bring to the host communities ranging from direct and indirect employment to physical development.

The commissioner added that the Federal Government, who has the responsibility of awarding bitumen blocks, has allocated blocks to five companies within the bitumen belt of the state.

He equally disclosed that they had concluded arrangements to formally form a Bitumen Production Advocacy Club (B-PAC) where members will cut across the various bitumen bearing communities with their roles well spelt out.

The project will change the standard of living of our people. It is now the duties of the monarchs and community leaders to sensitise the youth in their area to ensure peace.

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