By Gbenga Akinfenwa
Residents of Atan, Lusada, Igbesa, Agbara and other neighbouring communities in Ogun State, are beginning to heave a sigh of relief with the flag off of the reconstruction of the Atan-Luasada-Agbara road.
Though the road, which leads to the largest industrial estate in Nigeria— Agbara is a federal road, but it had suffered neglect, despite its importance to the economic development of the country.
It is sad that over the years, its state of disrepair had taken serious toll on several industries located on the axis. The axis also hosts one of the largest free trade zones in Nigeria, Ogun Guangdong FTZ, Igbesa.
The immediate past administration under the leadership of Senator Ibikunle Amosun raised the hopes of thousands of residents, motorists and companies along the road, when it began construction of an overhead bridge at the Igbesa Junction, but the project, like several others was abandoned.
The pillars of the abandoned overhead bridge have not only worsened the road, the crater created by the excavation work had aided flooding of the community around the project site.
Since inception, however, the Dapo Abiodun-led administration had signified its interest in fixing the road. The governor had declared that all infrastructural projects abandoned by his successor would be completed, albeit with a proviso.
According to Abiodun, only projects that have direct economic impact on the lives of the Ogun State people would be continued and completed. This, the governor has demonstrated by completing some of the road projects in the above category.
A key example is the completion of the overhead bridge and inroad at Kuto, Abeokuta. Panseke-Adigbe-Opako and Lafenwa-Rounda-Ayetoro Roads are other two major roads abandoned by the immediate administration, but were continued by the incumbent government.
Apart from the Atan-Lusada-Agbara industrial road, Papalanto-Sagamu Interchange road was another key road on the radar of the current administration. Though both roads belong to the Federal Government, the government had sought and got approval to take ownership of Atan-Lusada-Agbara Road, with the view of finding lasting solutions to the deplorable condition of this road, to ease movement of goods across the axis.
On every occasion, the governor had made it clear that the cost to fix the road was humongous, hence, his desire to enlist the synergy of the private sector. But while the preparation was ongoing, the governor had directed the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure to carry out palliative work on the road to ease vehicular movement. The palliative work which began from the Atan junction, indeed helped as falling of articulated vehicles reduced drastically, especially when it rains.
Meanwhile, joy of residents, small business owners and industrialists along the industrial road knew no bound with the official flag off of the reconstruction work recently.
With this bold step, business and industrial activities along the axis would receive a boon, while investors’ confidence in this administration’s quest to espouse good governance.
An earlier visit to the industrial road showed that heavy-duty equipment had been moved to the site, ahead of the official flag off of the road project. Observation of the ambience equally showed that residents were delighted that their woes would soon turn to joy.
At the turning of sod ceremony by the governor, indigenes of the town trooped out in large number to witness the event, while top government functionaries, traditional rulers, industrialists, community leaders, business owners and the youths, also witnessed the ceremony.
Also in attendance were the Senate Committee Chairman on Works and former governor of Kebbi State, Adamu Aliero, Senator representing Lagos West and the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Adeola Olamilekan. Other senators at the event are Ayo Akinyelure, Bamidele Opeyemi and Michael Nnachi. A member representing the Ota Federal Constituency at House of Representatives, Jimoh Ojugbele was also there.
The Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Ade Akinsanya, noted that the construction of the road would not only boost economic activities of the area but would equally improve prosperity of indigenes of the community and beyond.
Akinsanya added that the construction of the 10.25Km road was borne out of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement with the Ogun Guandong Free Trade Zone Igbesa, being an upshot of China Africa Investment.
This, according to him, has demonstrated the state commitment to work with private industries and investors to develop infrastructure, adding “Lusada- Igbesa road has now worn a new look with necessary modern and durable features that can stand a test of time.”
In his remark, the Managing Director of Hi-Tech Construction Company, the company handling the project, Bekker, said his company was excited to be part of the project, assuring that it would do a quality job it is reputed for in the country.
He added that the road, when completed, would reduce cost of production and ease of doing business on the economic corridor. On his part, the Chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in the state, Salim Adegunwa, salutes Governor Abiodun for keeping his electioneering promise to his members and sought the governor’s intervention in the area of multiple taxation.
In their respective royal goodwill messages, the Olota of Ota and the Olu of Ilaro and Paramount Ruler of Yewaland, Oba (Prof.) Abdul-Kabir Adeyemi Obalanlege and Oba Kehinde Olugbenle hailed the governor for showing tremendous interest in the development of Ogun West senatorial district.
They noted that rehabilitation of the most important road in Aworiland and Ogun State, would ease transportation of raw materials, as well as finished goods to and fro the Agbara industrial estate.
Also, Ojugbele, thanked the governor for turning the reproach of his constituency into a thing of joy to the residents. He described the day as “the happiest” of his life, adding “I will now be free and bold to visit and interact with my constituents without fear of any harassment.”
The President, Yewa-Awori Youth Council, Abayomi Oke, expressed delight that the governor responded to the ‘End-Bad-Road’ protests embarked upon last year by the youth of the area. He, however, implored the governor to ensure youths along the axis are gainfully engaged in the project as manpower and labour.
The Senator who represented Ogun West at the Red Chamber between 2011 and 2015, Akin Odunsi, described the turning of sod as a landmark event, which will bring succour to the residents and industries along the corridor.
He noted that the road had become decrepit over the years due to government neglect, commending Abiodun for deciding to fix the road, which, according to him, is the “gateway to the golden goose that lays golden eggs.”
For Senator Adeola, the road reconstruction is a remarkable one and legacy project for Ogun West and Ogun State in general. According to him, the road is an integral part of Sokoto-Badagry road, which is equally an international road.
“The economic benefits of rehabilitating this road can’t be quantified. Mr. Governor, you have taken the bull by the horn and come to the rescue of this axis, after years of abandonment. At the Senate, we are aware that most of the roads that pass through Ogun belong to the Federal Government. We will ensure that adequate funding is provided for the state in this regard. We will not leave you alone. What you have been able to achieve within two years in office is an indication that good governance has returned to Ogun,” he said.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, Adamu Aliero assured the state government that the committee would ensure that the reconstruction work road is included in the 2022 appropriation bill.
The Senator noted that the Abiodun-led government had thought it wise to reconstruct the Federal Government road because of concern for the people of the state.
He described the initiative as a symbol of good governance, which must be appreciated, while urging the governor to ask for reimbursement from the government at the centre upon the completion of the project.
“This road is a Federal Government road, because of concern you have for your people you decided to embark on the reconstruction of the road because of its economic value, not only to the state, but to the country. This is what good governance is all about.
“We’ll give the necessary support to ensure that this project is included in the 2022 budget,” Aliero stated.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, lauded the governor for taking the bold step to rehabilitate the industrial road, noting his ministry would continue to collaborate with the state on areas of trade and investment.
The lawmaker representing Ado Odo Ota Constituency 2 at the Ogun State House of Assembly, Musefiu Lamidi, said as a representative of the concerned people in the State Assembly, he was excited that to see the road getting a new lease of life. He added that the turning of sod for the industrial road is a testimony to the people-orientedness of the governor and his administration.