He was said to have once witnessed a fatal accident around the Mobalufon end of the Sagamu-Benin expressway. On that fateful day, an articulated vehicle rammed into a 14-seater commercial bus and left no survivor.
For many people who were conversant with that spot on the expressway, this was not a strange happening. It was routine. The road, especially that junction, was famished and therefore, year after year, it claimed the lives of many Nigerians, particularly Ogun State indigenes and residents.
Like the unrepentant spirit child who makes nonsense of the medicine man and his trade, this deadly spot seemingly defied all logic. Government after government appeared to have resigned to fate about the Mobalufon junction and watched on, apparently helpless, as the daily carnage continued.
This was the scenario that led to the accident that Senator Ibikunle Amosun witnessed on this particular day. As of that time, he wasn’t a politician. He was just travelling on the Sagamu-Benin expressway. And like other good spirited Nigerians, he joined in the rescue effort that eventually couldn’t save any of the passengers in the ill-fated bus.
Moved by what he had just witnessed, Amosun told those travelling with him that if God ever gave him the opportunity to serve his people, he would not hesitate to put an end to the daily carnage at the Mobalufon junction.
That became a mission statement. And it was therefore not surprising that when he eventually emerged governor of Ogun State in 2011, Amosun was a man on a mission to, among other things, fixthe famished roads in Ogun.
And there were quite a number of them. Not too far from the Mobalufon junction, there was the Lagos garage junction. This was yet another famished spot. It was regular, back then, to witness fatal accidents at this junction.
As it turned out, the famished roads and junctions were not limited to Ogun East Senatorial district. In the Ogun Central Senatorial District, places like Sapon and Iyana Mortuary, were equally famished. These were intersections often responsible for fatal accidents. They had their counterpart in the Ogun West Senatorial District around the Akute junction along Sango-Ojodu Abiodun road.
Not long after he assumed office, the state governor took on the challenge posed by these famished roads, junctions and intersections. The trick was to put in place what in civil engineering circles is called grid separators. In other words, the Amosun government brought to reality the Mobalufon overhead bridge in Ijebu Ode. With that singular move, Senator Amosun literally put an end to the frequent accidents that occur at the Mobalufon end of the Sagamu-Benin Road.
That was a promise kept. A similar approach was deployed at the Lagos garage junction. It also took the bloodthirsty road demons hitherto operating at that junction out of business. Other overhead bridges in Sabo, Sagamu, Sapon and Iyana Mortuary in Abeokuta have been completed and commissioned while work is ongoing on those at Ijebu Igbo, Ilaro and Akute.
Indeed, fixing the famished roads is a critical component of Governor Amosun’s ‘Mission to Rebuild’ in the state. Apart from putting an end to daily carnage on the roads, the administration’s focus, in this respect, is to create an environment that supports industry and commerce as well as inclusive economic growth.
Over the past five years, several hundreds of kilometres of roads have been constructed, expanded and resurfaced. For example, the Amosun government constructed the Ibara-Totoro Road, the first international standard six-lane road in Ogun State. It also built the flyover at Ibara, Abeokuta, the first constructed by any administration since the creation of the State in 1976. The first 10-lane boulevard, which begins at Sokori and opens up into the elaborate Itoku Bridge, is a stamp of modernisation affixed to the state capital by the current administration.
The Amosun administration also constructed the longest road, cutting across four local councils in Ogun West Senatorial District, the 107kilometreIlara-Ijoun Road. In the same vein, the administration ended the distress of commuters in and across Ado-Odo Ota Local Council through massive reconstruction of the strategically located and commercially important Ilo-Awela Road and the modernisation of Ota through the provision of modern township roads.
There is also the ongoing construction of the 32-kilometre Sango-Ojodu-Abiodun Road, which comes with five bridges, three of which are over water. Indeed, the state, under the current administration, is one huge construction site.
Expectedly, the famished road demons are fighting back. Their most potent weapon at the moment is the current financial crunch the whole country is going through. This, no doubt, has had the impact of slowing down the pace of work on some of the ongoing road construction projects.
But it is not strong enough to overcome the determination of the Ogun governor to rebuild the gateway state. Through a carefully designed economic diversification effort as well as prudent management of scarce resources, the state is soldering on in the face of the current challenges.
Right now, in spite of scarce resources the likes of Awokoyastreet, Bonojo road, New road, Osinubi street, Awujale street are under rehabilitation in Ijebu Ode area, while places like Oke Owa-Ilese road; Degun street; Sabo Ososa road; ItaAlapo street and Ondo road all in Ijebu Ode are being restored with hard core filling.
In Abeokuta, the Governor Amosun administration has recently rehabilitated Ibara-Adigbe road; Lafenwa-ItaOshin road; GRA road network; IsaleAke-Oke Lantoro road; repaired the damaged 3rd River Ogun bridge; constructed a major culvert across Adigbe road at Opako; restored Lafenwa-Agoka-Asero road with hard core filling while the Abeokuta-Sagamu road is currently under repairs.
Elsewhere in Ota the administration is restoring the Lagos- Abeokuta federal highway with hard core fillings in places like IyanaIlogbo; Plaza junction, Joju junction, OjuOore and Singer among others.
Similarly, the rehabilitation of Sagamu-Iperu-Ode-Sapade road is ongoing while the 13km Ibiade-Abigi road in Ijebu Waterside has just been rehabilitated alongside IjebuImushin township roads.
And the governor is not done with the famished roads yet. “By the time we are through, we would have about 24 to 25 flyovers in Ogun State,” Governor Amosun said.
Soyinka is Senior Special Assistant (Media) and spokesman for Governor Ibikunle Amosun.