The residents of several communities, including the popular Iwo Road in Ibadan, Oyo State, face difficulties regarding mobility because of the decrepit road linking the areas.
In what would surprise most of the people and make them happy initially, efforts to expand the road linking Iyana Church Bus Stop and the New Ife Road express began around July last year. Trucks began to pour in and equipment was deployed.
Little did the people know at the time that their joy would be short-lived. The earthworks of the gutters were also being constructed and everyone felt the time had finally come for the expansion and repair of such a major road that connected a lot of travellers and road users from emerging communities in Ibadan to the major Gbagi market (Bola Ige International Market) and also an expressway that leads to Osun state.
However, their joy turned short-lived as the road expansion has brought more concerns than any anticipated succour to ease go-slows and aid speedy commuting.
The contractor has since abandoned the work but not without making life unbearable for the residents of the area by pulling down an important bridge without which the road cannot function or connect.
Since the contractor’s action, people have to stop on one part of the road and cross by foot to another part of the same road across a dangerous makeshift bridge before they continue their journey, thus paying double fares and also wasting their time.
The contractor of the road put up a makeshift bridge made of wood and the bridge is already threatening to give way as the nails holding it together are beginning to show signs of weakness. The wood is also ageing and may no longer be able to handle the volume of the foot traffic across it as several people use it daily such that there is always heavy pedestrian traffic on the bridge both going and coming.
The smart business oriented residents of the area have however made good of the situation by setting up a market which trades to people who get down to cross the bridge. The market which exists just at the foot of the bridge and in the middle of what used to be a road is an indication of how long the project has since been abandoned. The market people are in fact putting up larger structures as they are becoming more confident that the road would not be open soon.
The pieces of equipment meant for road construction are still on the road too and when people attempt to complain, they are unaware of the mechanism to use in addressing the problem. Several calls have been made by community leaders to radio stations requesting the Abiola Ajimobi administration spring into action and complete the road project. So far, the result is yet to be seen.
The pleas for completion have largely gone unheeded as there remains no sign that such work will resume any time soon. The total number of estimated users of the road before the demolishing of the bridge would come well above 150,000 people including market women heading to Gbagi, students heading to primary and secondary school, workmen and artisans, road commuters, travelers seeking to avoid the hold-up around the Iwo-Road interchange in order to link the express to Osun and several other citizens of Oyo state belonging to various class and strata.
The bridge also connects the people to emergency services such as the Fire Service (important more due to the dry season) and medical aid as the hospitals cannot be linked in event of the need for health care by residents or they take a longer router which means anything can happen.
When spoken to, Kazeem Anifowose a resident of the community who lives next to the pulled down bridge complained bitterly and said the government of Oyo State is doing a thankless job and should have left their bridge and road the way it is without expanding it.
In his words “Ajimobi should have left our road the way it is. We thought the project will take just three days as they started coming around in July but it has now taken up to several months. We cannot use this road again except we cross the bridge and if you look at the bridge due to the heavy volume of what it handles as it is just wood, we are scared something serious will happen if it comes down.”
Another woman named, Ibidun Oladapo who is a trader said “every day, I am very tired and just need to get home to my children but I must first stop on the road halfway. Cross a bridge of wood with my legs and then take another vehicle on the other side. This bridge is already shaking and we just pray nothing happens. We don’t know why they removed the bridge”.
A lot of other residents spoken to also had very bitter words to use in describing the Oyo State government and wondered why they even came to start the road at all if they knew they were going to abandon the project.
In an attempt to reach the contractor handling the road, only his abandoned equipment can be seen and his name or that of his merchandise is not available.
In order to reach their destinations, transporters and road users have to take an extended route that deprives them of more fuel and transport fares through Iwo-Road or through the Monatan area.
The community members appeal to the Governor to ensure the project of road expansion is completed at once or even if would not be done, the bridge should be replaced and the road returned to its former motorable condition. As it stands, it is a wonder if they will ever find their answer as the leadership of the state is consumed with planning victory in the 2019 elections next month where the Governor himself is contesting again and at the same time trying to return the candidates of his party.
The residents of the area who spoke with this correspondent are full of complaints and beg for quick intervention. In other countries of the world, such a project can occur miraculously overnight and the road expansion would be done in no time at all. But in this clime, the skin of the people is being pricked by abandonment and governmental oversight.
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