Residents and motorists plying the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway in the Owode/Ijako/Iyana-Ilogbo areas of the Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State have lamented the deplorable condition of the road. The motorists, in separate interviews with PUNCH Metro, said the road, which had fallen into disrepair, had worsened their travel experience.
Traders and residents also decried the security risks they face on a daily basis while plying the road. Some drivers complained that besides the stress being encountered, the road had made their vehicles to become rickety. A trader, Modupe Adebola, said the only dividend of democracy she would appreciate from the government was for the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway to be reconstructed.
While recounting her ordeal, she said, “The only thing that can make me pray for this government and make me enjoy the dividend of democracy they promised is for this road to be reconstructed. “I have been rushed to hospital on two occasions after being injured while trading in the area.” A resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said living in the area since the road went bad had been a horrible experience.
He said, “For instance, I stay at Iyana Cele, but the traffic jam usually extends to Owode. Whenever I am coming home, I have to alight from the bus at Owode and trek to Iyana Cele on a daily basis. In fact, sometimes in our attempt to compete with motorcyclists, they knock us down and we fight back. May God save us from this hardship and neglect we are being subjected to by the government.”
Another resident, Mr Habib Anifowose, also complained about the abandonment of the construction, adding that residents were suffering as a result. He said, “The contractor has stopped the job and we are suffering. For instance, the last time it rained, over 354 houses were submerged in flood because the canal in this area was filled up and that was because the construction company constructed the drainage and channeled water into the canal without expanding it.”
On his part, a motorist, who identified himself simply as Alhaji Amao, said his job had been made difficult since the road went bad. He stated, “Since this road went bad, I have been taking pain reliever (drugs) after every meal to subdue my body pain. Even my bus, which I bought last year, is already looking very old. The painful part is that passengers are at the receiving end because they will always pay more.”
Residents living close to the bad portions of the road described the situation as capable of discrediting both the federal and state governments. “From indications, work started on the project before the elections. After the polls, nothing is happening there again,” a resident, Jamiu Animashaun, said.
Besides the Owode area, other bad portions of the road include Iyana Onigbedu, Iyana Egbado and Lakatabu to Osofin Estate. When one of our correspondents visited the office of the Federal Ministry of Works at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, a senior officer in the ministry declined comments.
He, however, referred our correspondent to his boss, who was said to be in Abuja. But the contractor handling the rehabilitation of the road, Julius Berger Plc, said it had not abandoned the project. The spokesperson for the company, Moses Duku, told one our correspondents that it was working with what he described as a “funding schedule.”
Duku said, “The project is ours. We have a tradition, which is that we don’t abandon projects once they have been given to us. But we also must work with the funding schedule of the project. Our people are there. “For every project we have, we work with the funding schedule, and if it is low, then it may reflect on the project. We don’t abandon projects.”
When one of our correspondents contacted the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, he was asked to speak with the Federal Controller of Works for Ogun State, Olukayode Popoola. But Popoola declined to state why work on the road stalled, stressing that he needed to be authorised by his superior before he could comment on the matter. “Until we clear from the permanent secretary, as civil servants, we don’t talk on some of these issues. So, if the permanent secretary asks me to speak, I will tell you,” he said.
When told that the Special Adviser on Communications to the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Hakeem Bello, described him (Popoola) as the right person to speak on the matter, the controller replied, “That will be after clearing with the permanent secretary. You can call back next week Tuesday.”
When asked to react to the statement made by Julius Berger, he said, “I don’t know anything about that, which was why I said you should let me brief the permanent secretary and he will now authorise me to speak.” On May 14, 2014, the ministry inaugurated the rehabilitation of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, for N22.39bn. It was gathered that the project commenced from the Ile Zik bus stop in Lagos and was to terminate at kilometre 80 in Ogun State.
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