There is no controversy about the ownership of the Benin-Ore Road commencing from Dawson Road (beginning at the Akpakpava Road junction) through Urubi Road, Uselu-Ugbowo Road onto Oluku, then to Ekiadolor junction and Ohosu (Ofosu) which is the boundary with Ondo State.
This road had been abandoned (maintenance wise) over the years and became particularly dilapidated during the period starting around 2003 up till now. The road has been the reason for public outcry and outrage for over a decade being the primary cause of fatal accidents and unreasonably extended journey times due to its scandalous state.
The Ugbowo-Uselu-Urubi-Dawson axis of the road had been a recurring nightmare, dreaded by inhabitants and visitors to Benin City especially during rainy season. The attempt by the Federal Ministry of Works to shirk its responsibility to keep this axis motorable by not fixing the Dawson-Ugbowo-Oluku axis for over a decade is particularly painful to the people and residents of Benin City due to the huge economic importance of this road.
Travelers have been known to spend days on the road from Lagos to Benin on a journey that ordinarily would have taken a little over two and a half hours. On entering Benin, they are subjected to further logjam lasting several hours occasioned by waist deep flood waters at three particular points along the road – Adolor Junction, Traditional Grounds and 5 Junction area.
Shockingly, rather than redesign the road to take care of the flooding challenges, the Federal Ministry of Works has chosen to only patch the potholes, relay the asphalt overlay and install “New Jersey” median. The contract does not include drainage works in Benin City, a strange decision considering the fact that flooding remains the main cause of the road’s failure over the years.
It was quite clear to Edo State Government that the federal solution would only last until the first rains came along before we were back to square one. It was at this stage that the state government decided to intervene on the side of the good people of Edo State particularly the people and residents of Benin City.
There is an obvious attempt by the Honourable Minister of Works, Architect Mike Onolemenmen, to obfuscate the facts of the issues under contention. The vague reference to gutters and parking lanes or drive ways etc. are not helpful and shed little light on the issues. For clarity and the avoidance of doubt, below is part of the works being undertaken by the Edo State government on the Dawson to Ugbowo axis of the road.
The government of Edo is constructing two brand new additional lanes to the road. These new lanes ranging from 3.65meters – 5.25meter in width includes site clearing, earthworks, sub base and crushed stone base as base course before two layers of asphalt and stretch from Dawson Road to Ugbowo.
From Chainage 0.0 to 2.025, a distance of 2.025 kilometers, these two lanes have been built of 150mm thick reinforced concrete rigid pavement spanning over drainage lines also constructed by EDSG with a final layer of asphalt outstanding. The rest of the road up to Ugbowo is being constructed as flexible pavement with crushed stone base as base course and two layers of asphalt.
In all of this, the Federal Government’s project is only to patch the numerous potholes on the old carriage way, overlay with asphalt and introduce “New Jersey” median barrier on the road. More importantly, from 2009 to date, only about 300meters cumulatively of the road from Dawson to Ugbowo (a distance of 8 kilometers) have received any attention from the Federal Ministry of Works! No part or portion of the federal project is fully done or completed!! What a gift to the people of Benin City, nay Edo State!!!
We leave the people to judge for themselves, who is doing the substantive work on the road. The claim of expending or planning to expend N24billlion on the rehabilitation works by the Federal Ministry simply borders on opaque use of public funds that can definitely benefit from extra scrutiny and proper auditing.
The state government has expended billions of Naira in expanding, reconstructing and upgrading of several federal roads in the state without a single word of gratitude (or complaint) from the Federal Ministry of Works.
Akpakpava Road from the Oba Ovonranmwen Square (former Ring road) to Ikpoba River was expanded and reconstructed into six lanes, complete with walkways, covered drains, streetlights and thermoplastic road markings.
Sapele Road was also expanded, dualised and reconstructed into a six-lane road from the Third Junction to Oba Ovonranmwen Square complete with covered drainage, walkways, street lights, traffic lights and thermoplastic road markings.
The New Lagos Road is another Federal Government road that has been long abandoned and allowed to fall into total disrepair. However, thanks to the Edo government, the road is now dualized, expanded to six lanes and entirely re-constructed complete with covered drains, street lights and has achieved almost 90% completion.
The same applies to the Auchi – Ikabigbo dualisation project; which is a section of the Auchi – Agenebode Road terminating at the Ojio river. Furthermore, Sokponba Road (which is part of the Benin Abraka Road) was rehabilitated from the Oba Ovonranmwen Square to the Third Junction complete with street lights and walkways and covered drains.
The state government was compelled to take on these roads due to their importance to the economic activities of the state; and for this we have absolutely no apologies to offer to anyone. We are however very glad to hear from the honourable minister that the Federal Government is preparing to refund to the states what they have spent on Federal roads.
We fully recognize and accept the right of anybody to put up signage over their projects. However, the honourable minister personally instructed the placement of bill boards claiming ownership of the road project at every 200 meters intervals including on the median.
These signboards were placed over the additional lanes and walkways constructed by Edo state government! Obviously, the aim was to cause confusion in people’s minds and attempt to unfairly annex part of the goodwill extended to the Adams Oshiomhole administration by a grateful and appreciative populace.
In fact, this duplicitous act was brought to the attention of the state government by concerned citizens who felt embarrassed and outraged that a federal agency was seeking glory over a project being executed by the state government. The Edo State government only asks that the Federal Ministry of Works place their bill boards over projects that they are responsible for executing.
Suffice it to say, however, that the Edo government led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole remains committed to rapidly developing the state and would readily welcome genuine collaboration efforts from any agency of the Federal Government. We however have little patience with unnecessary grandstanding and rhetoric.
*Mr Inwalomhe Donald, a public affairs analyst, lives in Benin-City.