Residents of the various communities within Mowe and Ofada axis of Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State have lamented the dilapidated condition of major roads within the district.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that the affected roads which connect over 40 communities within the area, have been under construction, reconstruction, and maintenance since the tenure of former governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
Despite this, little or no progress has been recorded in the construction of the double-sided lane track, which connects several communities to the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway at Mowe all the way from Ofada Roundabout.
Upon speaking with residents, motorists, and commuters, a reccurring decimal was the disdain each and every respondent had regarding the present situation of the road.
While many appropriated blame to the government of the day for being insensitive and nonchalant to the needs of the masses, others threw direct jabs at several industries whose heavy duty vehicles ply roughly on the road without discretion.
For Mrs. Felicia Njoku, a store owner in Arigbawonwo community and mother of three, moving all about on the road in a commercial vehicle has been an ordeal in recent times.
According to her, going to the shop from her house in Owode constantly poses severe implications on her health.
“I just moved into my new house here in Ogun state from Ibadan with my husband and 3 kids. It has been very hard coping with the new situation I found here. Truly, every place comes with its own discomfort and challenge.”
Notwithstanding, this is very severe as it has to do with my health. We don’t have a family car, and for this reason, we move by public transportation (keke). This wasn’t an issue where I am coming from, but due to the bad road condition; for example, the numerous potholes on the road, I constantly feel pains and discomfort in my joints. Oftentimes, when I get home, I make use of methylated ointments and, in extreme cases, pain relief drugs,” she said.
Another respondent, Itohan Ayomide, a secondary school student, made mention of the enormous time spent on the road every morning during school days before getting to school.
According to him, several transporters avoid plying the route due to the bad road, and the very few that come by a charge higher than normal.
Itohan said: I have been living within Mowe for the past six years. We came when the contractors newly began the project. As a matter of fact, my parents said that this was one of the reasons they were eager to move from our former residence. At that time, it was very visible for all to see that residents within the area were looking to the future with great hope and enthusiasm. During that period, one lane of the double-sided road was fully completed.
“Things began to take a downward turn when the contractors started stalling the project till it was finally abandoned. Several years ago, upon arrival to this vicinity, the transportation fare from Ofada roundabout to Mowe was N100. Today, the fare is well above N300. Well, I must not forget the fuel hike; nonetheless, the bad road, especially during the rainy season, has equally encouraged the inflation of transportation fares within the vicinity.”
“Going to school has also not been easy, especially for those whose parents aren’t mobile. We have to leave the house very early so as to secure a vehicle on time because the number of transporters in this area are little, otherwise we end up getting to school late.”
Another road user, Mr. Aboderin Lawal, recounted his hellish experience with his vehicle on the road.
He said that the incident, which was one too many, was eating deep into his income. He recalled how he was a constant visitor at the mechanic shed until he had to relegate the car at home only to be taken out for special assignments, duties, or in a case of emergency.
Lawal said, ”I work at a manufacturing firm in Sagamu, and on several encounters, my car develops a fault on the road. This is the same car I was using in Lagos before I got transferred to Ogun State. Things got so bad that I became a constant visitor at the mechanics.
” It was costing me a fortune. At first, I thought it was the mechanic trying to take me for a ride until I found myself changing mechanics more often than not. If not for a friend within my estate that advised me on making use of public transport, I don’t know what would have happened because it was already becoming an eyesore. As we speak, I only use the car for very important assignments or within my immediate area.”
Similarly, a commercial tricycle rider who preferred to be identified as Baba Moscow spoke about the issues motorists face on the infamous route and also gave a hint as to why commercial drivers and riders charge more.
“This road is very bad. Often times, many people think we transporters are trying to cheat passengers of their hard-earned money, which is not true. The truth is that we transporters and motorists, in general, are at the forefront of this harsh reality. Take for example, each time there is a heavy downpour, and water collects on the road in its usual fashion, the water oftentimes causes serious damage to our engines and other sensitive parts of the vehicle.
Many times, our vehicles spend days with the mechanic which results in us spending more money without having income for days or weeks. Meanwhile, many of us have families, and many others have to keep remitting money back to their benefactors who gave them the vehicle on a contract basis,” stated the rider.
When asked about the root cause, baba Moscow apportioned blames to the truck drivers who drive roughly on the busy road.
“I will always blame those truck drivers,” he said. “Especially the ones from companies like Dangote, Lafarge, and even these bottling companies. Many of their drivers are immature. They drive like they are the only road users. I don’t know if they are usually under an influence before mounting the wheel or not because of the way they drive.
On many occasions we wake up to numerous accidents traceable to these truck drivers, which in turn vandalize the road. Sometimes the people in the community are able to apprehend them and other times, they escape. Notwithstanding, we solicit and crave the indulgence of the principals of these big manufacturing industries within this area to channel aid and other palliatives to cushion the after-effects of the siting of their companies here,” Baba Moscow added.
While many complain about the adverse effect of the bad road on their health and the damages incurred on their properties, others have claimed that the issue was a snowballing menace that possesses the ability to touch many areas at a time.
While speaking with Nigerian Tribune, Mrs Anuoluwa Peace, a retailer within the Ofada main market complained bitterly about the road condition. According to her, the road network should be among the top criteria for anybody taking a feasibility test on what business to do in the area.
Peace said, ”I used to trade in the food business until ‘the Mowe – Ofada Road happened to me.’ A lot of people complain about the rainy season but people like me back then who dealt in the food canteen business was always afraid of the dry/harmattan season; because of the dust. During this period, we always mop, clean and dust the environment.
Customers who do not understand would always complain about dust on the plates, show glass, and even utensils. I had to move away from that line because it was becoming too stressful and demanding. In general, I would advise any person starting out a business within this vicinity to take into consideration all factors, including the road before starting out.
Still on the same subject, a realtor, Mr Akinwale Daniel, said the price valuation of the lands and houses within the vicinity wasn’t moving as expected. According to him, this is a result of the bad road condition. He further stressed the need for the government to take immediate action as the vicinity could be a gold mine due to its close proximity to Lagos, the economic nerve center of Nigeria.
He said, “The road network has stalled the promising future of real estate in this vicinity. I help sell lands and even developed properties in many places. When you compare those places with this area, you will observe a measure of under development here because of the road network. As a matter of fact, this place would have been booming due to many advantages like the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, RCCG Redemption camp, and its close proximity to Lagos, but this had been forestalled due to the bad road condition. I urge the government of the day to look into this plight and ensure to bring back life into the popular and renowned Mowe – Ofada town.”
While monitoring the situation at hand, Nigerian Tribune observed that there was a number of implants of several materials on the road other than the regular coal tar and bitumen used in road construction.
When asked, Mr. Sunday Idowu, an executive in Ayegbaju Community Development Associations (CDA) within the affected area said that the youths had resorted to several self-help measures in the past. He further added that these measures were able to ease the severity of the issue in a way.
“The road is obviously an abandoned project by the government. Occasionally, the youths and some other corporate bodies within the community come up with the initiative of filling the potholes on the road with sand, bricks and rubbles. The motor park boys also go to the extent of collecting a certain amount of money from the drivers of heavy trucks and other road users.
Proceeds generated are then channeled back to the maintenance of the road in their own little way. I believe the recent turnout of event on the road is as a result of the rain and even free-flowing water from some water bodies within the community. We have drainages, quite alright, but sometimes, the water becomes so much that it exceeds the capacity of the gutters.
Previously, the presence of workers from the ministry used to come to rehabilitate the road. But for the past two years, we haven’t seen them at all. Lastly, I want to use this opportunity to call on Governor Dapo Abiodun to take on this project as it will not only ease the burden of residents and road users but would also imprint his name in the sands of time,” he said.