As the New Year opens like a new hibiscus flower and the tentacles of road construction are spreading even wider in the country, allow me to draw the attention of the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, to the hardship and suffering being experienced along the 327 km road (Ilorin to Lokoja, a federal road). The people of Kwara and Kogi states are known for the production of coffee, palm oil, cashew, groundnut, yam, cassava, maize, guinea corn, millet and beans.
With functional roads, farmers who have their cash and food crops are able to move them from their farms to the markets easily. Therefore, to say the road is important to the economy of the country is an understatement. The hopes and aspirations of the people in these communities to produce these foods in larger quantities have been shattered because of the hardship in transporting these goods to the markets.
Our people have on several occasions filled the roads with clay soil but it did not last. Similarly, our prominent indigenes have deployed their personal resources to fix the bad portions of the road; at some point, a top player in the telecoms industry in consonance with Sunday Karim, a member of the House of Representatives representing Yagba Federal Constituency, and His Royal Highness Oba Adedoyin Bolaji, paid for fixing part of the road from Osi in Kwara state to Isanlu in Kogi state. The efforts of James Faleke, Tajudeen Yusuf and Godwin Abayomi must be noted as they bankrolled the scraping and grading of some sections of the road from Obbo-Ille, Kwara state to Obajana in Kogi state. I also want to commend the effort of the Kwara state Governor, Abdulrahaman Abdulrasaq, who has started fixing the road from his end, Ilorin. Commendable efforts indeed!
In fact, the road is 46-year-old and has reached the expiry date-and requires a permanent solution not patching. The road is often damaged by heavy trucks, erosion and lack of maintenance and this has led to serious damage or even loss of lives. The trips which should take less than five hours have become needlessly long taking about seven to eight hours. The business men and women who ply the road often narrate the harrowing and traumatic experience of the road.
Consequently, various communities have been alienated from other parts of the town especially during periods when the clouds open and let down the rain like a waterfall. Our previous administrations had underinvested in our transport infrastructure for decades, and it’s coming home to roost. The drivers are paying for the nation’s inaction, the passengers are crying as they have to dance an unavoidable dance and must take Panadol after alighting. The people of Kwara and Kogi states are law-abiding citizens, obedient and pay their taxes as and when due.
At different times, we have heard it said that the road had been awarded and actual work would commence soon but up till now, the road still remains dilapidated. Delaying fixing will only increase costs as construction costs increase with time and further deterioration of the roads continues.
The condition of the Ilorin-Lokoja road is ranked as one of the worst in the country, doing nothing will be worse than the plagues of Egypt. It is my sincere hope that this request will be accorded favourable attention by the Minster of Works and Housing.
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