Oyo-Ogbomoso dual carriageway: Succour at last

The last section of the Ibadan-Ilorin dual carriageway awarded by the Federal Government over 14 years ago recently got a new lease of life. The inauguration of the construction of the Oyo-Ogbomoso axis recently brought joy to motorists, particularly those within the South West corridor. TUNDE OGUNESAN reports the exercise that brought back hope.

There was indescribable happiness when the news broke that efforts had been re-ignited to ensure the construction of the Oyo-Ogbomoso axis of the Ibadan-Ilorin dual carriageway project. This was the case when top government functionaries were present at the inauguration of the project. Those present at the ceremony included the Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Senator Kabiru Gaya, Senator Ordia Clifford, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, Honourable Akeem Adeyemi and the lawmaker representing Oyo Central District at the upper chamber of the National Assembly, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu.

The contract for the construction of the road which begins at Ibadan and goes through to Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, was awarded in March 2001. The project was a brainchild of former President Olusegun Obasanjo during his first term in office.

The project was divided into three sections. The first section commences at Ojoo in Ibadan and ends at Irepo Market in Oyo; the second section begins from Oyo and stops at Ogbomoso, while the third section which starts from Ogbomoso ends at Gerin-Alimi Roundabout in Ilorin.

This project, if completed, will eventually bring an end to the nightmare of transporters and other users of the road.

The old Ibadan-Ilorin road had become a concern for the people of the South-west. Plying the roads unconsciously brought people closer to their Creator, at least for the moment they pass through the road termed “valley of death.”

In that case, when a public vehicle departs the motor park, the first 10 minutes of the journey was always prayer moment, both for the driver and the passengers, for successful journey.

This practice had become a norm, not because the people loved prayers, but it seemed to be the assurance for a safe trip. In many situations, most passengers in commercial buses get set as ‘co-pilots’ with rapt spiritual attention devoted to the source of their religious beliefs.

Now, with the move to complete the road, the journey from Ojoo to Ilorin could now become a pleasure ride.

This relief was clearly evident on all the faces of stakeholders who attended the flag-off ceremony recently at the Elete, Atiba Local Government, Oyo.

In an interview with Nigerian Tribune, Senator Sunmonu said, “We have voted for a “change” government and it is important that we too change our mindset. If I give a grinding machine to a woman who cannot afford to pay her rent she will end up selling the grinding machine for half of the price I bought it. That is not empowerment. Likewise, if I dish out cash gifts, it will not achieve much. So when we sat down to think of what we can do we decided to make a push towards bringing investment back home.

“This road will cost billions of Naira to complete. That money will be invested in the local community: those who will supply the contractor, labourers will be employed and petty traders will all benefit from the investment, not to talk of the general public who will have use of a good road. There is no money or empowerment I can do from my personal pocket that can match that kind of investment. This is the kind of “change” government I campaigned to my constituents about.”

Senator Sunmonu while revealing her legislative effort of including the budget for the project in the 2015/16 budget also commended other legislative members from the state for their input.

According to her, “While I am able to copiously account for my contribution to this project, I am very much aware that other relevant stakeholders played important roles in the budgeting of funds for resumption of work. Understanding the importance of the road between Northern and Southern Nigeria, the President of the Senate, His Excellency, Senator Bukola Saraki was very forthright that the road must be budgeted for and monitored the process to ensure its inclusion. Distinguished Senator Kabiru Gaya, the chairman, Senate Committee on Works, played an extremely important role in ensuring that the road was budgeted for and the impact of his deputy-chairman, distinguished Senator Ordia Clifford, was very telling. Likewise, distinguished Senator Mohammed Goje who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee played an incredibly significant role; particularly because during the reconciliation of draft budgets between the two chambers it was discovered that the lower chamber had not included the road in its budget.”

The Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi while flagging off the road commended the Federal Government for the approval which gave way for the final completion of the road.

“We believe that the contractor will work day and night to deliver a standard job in good time. This road project was mooted over 36 years ago and we have had six federal administrations that failed to complete it. Good road network is a prerequisite for buoyant economy.

“Lessons derived from this is that we should always choose our representatives based on integrity, godliness, patriotism and selflessness, which are attributes exhibited by our Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, representing Oyo Central at the Senate, as well as other legislators that partook in the revival of this project,” Senator Ajimobi stated.

In his address, the chairman, Senate Committee on Works, Senator Kabiru Gaya, said that the project was a cardinal project for the Buhari administration.

He said, “We all know that bad roads are a major cause of accidents, leading to loss of lives and properties and the present government will not tolerate shoddy jobs.

“I, therefore, enjoin the contractor handling this road to do a good job different from what was done on a section of this road. It is imperative to inform you that President Buhari has this road as a cardinal project.”

The representative of RCC, Mr. Nader Yusuf, assured the governor and the senate team that the project would be completed with best quality.

Some residents who spoke with Nigerian Tribune also expressed their appreciation at the development. Pa Kolade Adisa and Mrs Hadejah in separate interviews said they hoped work on the road when completed very soon would put an end to the incessant loss of lives on the road.

Nevertheless, when completed the hope is that at the Oyo/Ogbomoso axis villages and institutions there will experience better businesses.

For example, Emmanuel Alayande College of Education, Oyo, is one of the institutions that will be positively affected by a new expressway. In addition, more than 15 villages will be exposed.

The villages include: Adetunji, Elete, Asani, Elega, Idode/Tokun, Olode, Ijawaya, Ipeba, Senbe, Busari, Tokotoko, Alagbon, Alaidon and Owode/Elete.

Hopefully, the new dual carriageway when eventually completed will put an end to auto crashes as a result of bad roads. Vehicular movement from Ibadan to Ilorin, especially of articulated vehicles would be more trouble-free, lives would be safer while commuters plying the road would do so with some level of comfort.

Corroborating this hope, Senator Sunmonu declared that “the Oyo-Ogbomoso Road that was once a death-trap will not be a death-trap for much longer. By the special grace of God, this road will be completed soon. Despite the financial constraints Nigeria is facing, it is this joint effort that has caused President Buhari’s APC government to budget N6billion for the resumption of work on the road.”