Residents of Arepo, in the Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, have resorted to self help after the state government allegedly failed to construct the community’s major road.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the Governor Ibikunle Amosun-led administration had six years ago awarded the construction of the road to a firm, First August, but nothing was done as the contractor claimed that he was not mobilised.
The President of the Arepo Central Community Development Association (ACCDA), Kehinde Adeyemo, said after waiting endlessly without any action or feedback from the government, the residents mobilised to construct the road, which he said spanned 1.7 kilometres.
Adeyemo, who said the road was expected to gulp about N150m, explained that the association had so far constructed a part of the entrance into the community.
He said, “We want to publicly inaugurate the construction of the road. We had done a private inauguration and got some individuals to contribute for us to do a sample of the road. The idea is to get people to buy into the vision. Now that we have done the sample, we want to get more people to make commitments.
“This was because we did not get the help of the state government. This road was awarded to First August in November 2012 with a sign post erected at the Journalist Estate Phase 1 gate. Since then, the road has remained untouched and impassable for motorists and pedestrians.
“I recall that when we discovered that the road was going to cut into two due to erosion at the gate of NUJ Estate 2, we gathered funds together and we constructed the culvert. But before we moved to the second stage of culvert construction, the state ministry of works came and helped us out.
“Also, when Governor Ibikunle Amosun came in year 2015 to seek re-election, we made it clear that the road was our priority because of the pain we go through on a daily basis. We are still expecting the government to do something till today. Each time we appealed to the state governor, he usually assured us that the road would be fixed during his tenure. Because of our concern for the road, we became close to almost everybody in the corridors of power at Abeokuta. Sadly, all we got were empty promises.
“In August 2017 when Governor Amosun came to see the construction of Magboro Road in a neighbouring community, he said the contractor would move to Arepo. Since then, we have been calling the contractor, but he said he had not been mobilised.”
He noted that during rainy season, the community sometimes record casualties, especially among pregnant women and children, because of the bad condition of the road.
Adeyemo, who lamented that the community had been neglected, said a total of N18m had been spent by estates in the community and the ACCDA to grade the road.
He said the ACCDA had decided to bill each landlord N100,000 to construct the road, adding that other residents were at liberty to donate.
The community leader explained that the association would only appeal to residents’ sensibilities to construct the road, saying no one would be forced.
“We cannot predict how people will respond, but we believe that once anybody sees this sample, they will be encouraged to contribute.
“We spend a lot of money every year to grade this road. We have already spent N8m to build concrete drains, walkways and paving stones for one side of the road. Julius Berger has promised to assist us to extend to the expressway. So, we are getting somewhere,” he added.
The Chairman of Shallom Estate Residents Association, Mr Adeshina Shittu, said the public inauguration was to mobilise more resources for the project.
“We expect that by sometime next year, we should have completed the road. Arepo is a town and the fact that the only road leading into that community is in a state of disrepair does not help the reputation of the state government,” he added.
The Ogun State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Adedayo Adeneye, said it was wrong for the residents to construct the road without authorisation from the appropriate quarters, adding that the government had the community in mind.
He said, “The real issue is that there is paucity of funds. As I speak, this government has undertaken projects on Federal Government’s roads amounting to over N160bn, many of which were to avert loss of lives. Despite evaluation visits by the Minister of Works, Lands and Housing, Raji Fashola; and the Minister for Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, nothing has been repaid.
“About five months ago, I visited Arepo (where I have some friends) with the state governor and some of the residents started saying we abandoned them. The governor picked out one of them and asked where he worked; he said Lagos. He was asked where his children attended schools; he said Lagos. He was asked where he paid his tax; he said Lagos. When he was asked to produce his tenement rate, he disappeared into the crowd. This government is not shying away from its responsibilities of providing amenities, but we need funds.”
Adeneye, however, promised to ask the state commissioner for works to send officials to the community and look at the road. (Punch)