His face, wrinkled by time and age, looks sad, apparently because of the problem affecting his business. At 70, Okunola Adeniji runs a small business with the hope of sustaining and keep him busy after retirement.
For some time, his business bloomed and everything went smoothly but not for long. A new road being constructed in front of his shop that got him excited at the start now aches his heart. The road is abandoned halfway into construction, placing business owners around the area, like him, at the mercy of dust in the dry season and muddy wetness when it rains.
“It has affected my sales. This is the cloth I have been using to cover my shop to prevent the dust from the road. After retirement, I ventured into this business so as not to be idle, but already this road has taken the business from me,” Mr Adeniji said.
The Loogun Federal Poly Road in the Ogberin community is significant in Ede South Local Government. It connects several villages like Gere, Akoda and even the Gbongan-Ibadan expressway.
When the construction started in 2020, residents were delighted, but today, the worry it has created is far more than the good it promised.
So far, the poor state of the road has led to damaged cars, numerous accidents and has hampered a lot of businesses. It has also led to a hike in transport fares.
The back story; where it began
In 2018, N140 million was allocated for the construction of Loogun Federal Poly road under the Ministry of Power, Work and Housing supervision while it was assigned to FERMA. Again, in 2019, another N250 million was allocated for road construction.
The Zonal Intervention Project (ZIP) was facilitated by Adelere Oriolowo, the lawmaker representing Osun West in the Senate. Assigned to Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) under the Ministry of Education, the project was awarded to Swaleys Nigeria Limited for execution. The Accountant-General’s office has confirmed that funding for ZIPs for these years has been fully cash-backed.
Unfortunately, after grading the road, only a small portion was completed as of 2021; the parts that cover the Federal polytechnic Ede and Adeleke University. Presently, the greater portion of the road lies in shambles, abandoned.
For motorists, the current state of the road is a dream-turned-nightmare and the only way to survive is to increase transport fares.
“You are going to Loogun at Federal Poly? Your money is 1500,” a taxi driver at Owode Ede, who refused to give his name, charged the UDEME reporter.
“The road is very bad, and no one wants to go there. When you get there yourself, you will see the situation on the road. I charged you for the bad road, not the distance,” he added.
This visit was on 7th June. This reporter sighted abandoned on the road, trucks and machines used for the construction of the road. Some parts of the road have deep gullies due to erosion.
Jimoh Adebayo, a motorcycle mechanic at Orisumibare Ifelodun community, Ogberin, told UDEME that the road had been abandoned since 2021, adding that failure to add asphalt to the road has caused more damage to it. He explained that the road was only graded and that such an opening has caused erosion to wipe away its surface and dig dangerous holes in the road.
UDEME found a typical example of such dangerous holes at Ogberin junction, where buses and cars had to take a dangerous bend to avoid the gully.
This road covers about 4.5 kilometres from Ogberin Junction to Loogun. Sadly, only about 650 metres were constructed, covering the frontage of the two institutions mentioned earlier.
On the other part of the road before the two campuses (Adeleke University and Federal Poly), the drainage, apparently poorly constructed, now lies in utter ruin.
“They constructed the drainage but not quite long; they stopped and never came back until 2021. Well, they came back to complete the road in front of the federal Polytechnic and then tarred it, as you can see,” Mr Adeniji said.
Close to the Polytechnic gate are loads of granite on the roadside, some already washed away by the rain.
Steven Adedeji, a Federal Polytechnic Civil Engineering student, spoke bitterly of their struggle to get to the campus, especially during examinations.
“We only come here to do exams, but we used to trek here since we could not afford the school bus and fear accidents on bikes. The journey is not an easy one as we go an hour plus from the north campus.”
“Had the road been good, I am very sure the bus would not charge much. We all know that the bus charges high because of the bad road. Even the bus at times doesn’t want to come to this road,” Mr Adedeji told UDEME.
Another student, Akinola Ezekiel, told stories of how the road had caused accidents that got some students injured.
“Last week, before the holiday, a female student had an accident that broke her arm, so many records of students who experienced and sustained very serious injuries due to this same road,” Mr Ezekiel said.
Community members are helpless and their leaders, who have attempted to find solutions are now clueless.
“When we saw this project in the community, we gathered. We reported to the local government that the project only affected the Federal Poly road, and all other parts had been abandoned. We were told that it is not our duty as a community to ask or do anything on the project since the project is a federal project,” Mr Adeniji, who also serves as the Chairman of the Ifelodun community, one of the communities along the road, said.
“We were told the project is between the lawmaker and the school administrators. I will also advise you to visit the school administrators if you really want to know better about it because I can’t say why a federal road project will only cover that little portion,” he added.
Kemi Azeez, who sells food items in her kiosk, spoke on how the road affected her business.
“The road is a major road in Ede, but the situation of the road has changed. During the rainy season, you won’t like it here, as cars on cars get affected so much. I am used to the dust already, as you can see,” she said.
In a phone conversation, Wale Olaleye, the founder of Swaleys Nigeria Limited, declared that payment was delayed for 9 months.
“I didn’t start or receive any payment in 2019, it was 2020, and there was a delay in payment for 9 months. And as you can see, the work had been completed at the federal Poly,” he retorted. “Have you gone to the site? You can speak with them over there and speak with the site engineer. And if you have gone there yourself, you should see work is going on there,” he added.
This conversation ended quickly as Mr Wale furiously hung up the phone claiming this reporter was putting words in his mouth.
All attempts to reach out to the lawmaker who facilitated this project were futile. After several attempts, the lawmaker did not pick up his call or reply to messages.
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