In Ekiti state, OJO OLADELE reports that almost all federal and some state government roads are in total state of disrepair thereby causing untold hardship on residents and travellers.
Without mincing words, this is not the best of times for Ekiti residents especially road users as they groan over the deplorable condition of roads in the state, the reason for which kidnappers and armed robbers now operate without hinderance.
The roads include the Ado-Ekiti-Akure road, Ado-Ekiti-Ikare road, Ado-Aramoko-Itawure road, Ado-Ifaki–Ido Ekiti road and Ifaki–Oye-Ekiti–Ikole-Omuo road.
Others are Omuo–Kabba road stretching to some local councils in Kogi, Omuo-Oke road and Agbe–Ikare road which have been abandoned for years.
The condition of these roads, especially the Ado – Akure road has however been a source of concern to residents and travellers who had witnessed accidents that claim several lives.
Aside accidents, passengers are made to pay high fares because motorists claim they spend more money to maintain their vehicles due to the state of the roads.
The Federal Executive Council had in 2019 approved the rehabilitation of the 36 kilometre Ado-Ekiti–Igede-Aramoko-Itawure road for about N14 billion. The minister of works, Babatunde Fashola, had in a statement said the contract was expected to be completed in 30 months.
Checks however revealed that motorists are having tough time to navigate the many bad portions along the road which has caused recurring accidents with many people get kidnapped.
Regrettably, residents of the state capital, Ado-Ekiti, have been expressing disgust that the dualisation of Ado-Ekiti – Akure road which was approved in early 2020 by the federal government to Dantata & Sawoe contracting firm for N22 billion had been abandoned as little or nothing is happening on the road.
In the last few weeks, travellers and motorists plying Ado-Akure road faced tough time with many stranded for hours due to blockage of the road by heavy duty vehicles.
Investigation reveals that the traffic congestion currently being experienced along the route and other roads in the state is as a result of the collapsed sections on Jebba road in Kwara state and the Kabba axis of the Abuja road.
It is noted that all roads, both state and federal, in Ekiti which had become the routes for North and South-bound trucks in recent times, leave commuters spending three to four hours on the dilapidated road, in addition to becoming death traps and kidnapping zones.
A traveller, Mrs Mojisola Ajayi, who witnessed the gridlock along Akure-Ado road, recently said that it was harrowing experience for many. She lamented that a journey from Akure to Ado-Ekiti which ordinarily should take less than one hour turned to over five hours.
According to the popular event planner, after waiting endlessly on the road with no hope of breakthrough, she decided to make a detour to Akure and make use of the alternative road of Igbara-Oke-Igbara Odo -Ilawe-Ado road.
“There was a total gridlocked after the Police College coming from Akure on Sunday. In order not to disappoint my customer, I took another route to Iju by retuning to Akure and face the Igbara Oke-Igbara odo-ilawe Ekiti-Ado-Ekiti-Ikere Ekiti.
“Do we have government at all? If we have, is blood flowing through their veins, because these leaders have failed the people considering the embarrassing state of the road,” she said.
Also, a driver Kunle Owolabi lamented that the situation of the road has made many of his colleagues to ignore plying the Ado-Akure road in view of the unending gridlock.
He wondered why the road which was awarded in 2020 has not witnessed any significant work considering the fact that the two states are in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Olatunji said, “My brother, the road is worst at the moment and I can tell you that the journey which should be about an hour is now up to five hours due to the deplorable condition of the road.
“After series of outcry, this road was awarded last year with much publication in the media and now you can see the situation, even when Ondo and Ekiti belong to the APC with the federal government. This is embarrassing and sad.”
It is on record that much abduction which took place on the road happened at the failed portions especially in Iju-Itaogbolu where vehicles have to move slowly in order to navigate the road.
Months ago, a lecturer with the Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko, Mr Mayowa Adinlewa was abducted along the route when navigating a failed portion on his way to Ikere-Ekiti and kidnappers demanded N10 million ransom.
The Ekiti state governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi at a recent television interview lamented the slow pace of work on the Ado-Akure dualisation road, saying alongside his Ondo state counterpart, Rotimi Akeredolu, they had planned to source for funds to work on the road but was allegedly frustrated by the federal government.
In the alternative, Fayemi revealed that he had worked on the Ado-Ilawe-Akure route which is now in good shape for people to use in linking the Ondo state capital from Ado-Ekiti.
Contracts have been awarded- Federal controller
When contacted, the federal controller of works for Ekiti state, Mr Ishaq Lawal, said most of the roads in the state have been awarded to contractors including the Ado-Akure road and that the office is expecting the contractors to report for the work.
“We have made proposals for these roads in the state to our headquarters and we are expecting positive response in a bid to continue full rehabilitation on the roads. That of Ado-Akure has been awarded and my colleague in Ondo state would have more information on it and give you the status.
“We have written proposal. Ado -Aramoko-Itawure road has been awarded and very soon the contractors would be around. In no small time, we are expecting the contractors in the state.”
Law maker’s concern
Disturbed by the unpleasant development, the chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) Hon Femi Bamisile said the staggering sum of N460 billion budgeted for construction and maintenance of federal roads in 2021 appropriation law was not having any positive effect on Nigerians.
Lamenting the state of federal roads and how commuters were being stuck on them due to collapsed bridges or cases of deplorable conditions, Bamisile described the N30 billion allocated to FERMA out of the budgetary provision to works ministry, as paltry, wicked and insensitive.
The APC lawmaker who spoke in Aramoko-Ekiti, Ekiti west local government area of the state while addressing some angry commuters, who got stranded along Igede-Aramoko -Efon road also visited Ado-Ilawe-Igbara-Oke and Ado-Ikere-Akure road where similar situations were experienced.
The federal lawmaker, who lamented the harrowing experiences of the motorists, said FERMA had begun reconstruction of a bridge that collapsed at Ijan-Ekiti, Gbonyin local government area which had been causing traffic gridlock along Ado-Ijan-Ikare road.
The federal parliamentarian, who branded what Nigerians were experiencing across the six geo political zones at the moment as pathetic and disturbing said, “I have moved round Ekiti and what I saw were disturbing. On Friday, I saw about 1,000 trucks along Ado-Akure road stranded because of bad road. I pity what Nigerians are passing through this time.
“I have met with the minister of works, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola several times on the terrible conditions of the federal roads in Ekiti state and what Nigerians are passing through.
“This situation is unfortunate and we have to find solutions to it. We learnt that a bridge got cut off at Jebba in Kwara state and these heavy trucks from the north and south now find Ekiti as the most convenient place to ply and that had further caused serious damage to both federal and state roads.
Continuing, the federal lawmaker added, “The Federal Ministry of Works got a total of N460 billion in the budget and N30 billion was given to FERMA, this is too small for a body saddled with maintenance and rehabilitation of roads across Nigeria. Nigerians cannot be treated this way.
“There should be a serious reform in the way our federal roads are being maintained. Let all the monies being allocated be structured accordingly so that Nigerians can be rescued from this mess.
“On my return to Abuja, I would take this matter up. I have been to the north, south and everywhere, we are experiencing bad roads and this is because of poor funding and this must change because Nigerians are really suffering.”
Bamisile pleaded with the stranded motorists not to resort to violence for they have no other country than Nigeria, saying he would ensure that all the barricades are removed.
On the best way out of the deplorable roads in the country, he appealed to the federal government to grant tax relief to Aliko Dangote and also adopt concrete tarring to ensure durability.
“The best and most modern method of construction now is concrete tarring. That was what Dangote adopted in construction of Lokoja-Obajana road. The government should also grant tax relief to Dangote for it to be able to perform more corporate social responsibilities to Nigerians. If the company is allowed to do this, it would help us.
“All these we are experiencing on our roads should not be happening in a city, but in a jungle”, Bamisile lamented.