I FIRST came across the phrase a ‘Huge Construction Site’ in November 1999 during a tour of Germany sponsored by the government of that country.
The expression was used in an information pamphlet describing the city of Berlin which was then undergoing massive reconstruction aimed at giving it the infrastructural facilities befitting its status as capital of the newly united Germany.
That phrase, however, aptly captured the scenario presented on the streets of Berlin during the period. Every corner you turned to, there was construction work going on, with giant equipment dotting the landscape.
Thus, when Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, national leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in his speech on January 24 during the commissioning of the first flyover bridge to be built by the Ogun State Government in its 37 years of existence used the same expression to describe the situation in the state today, one could not but marvel at the beauty of the expression.
With 16 major road construction projects going on simultaneously across the state and other reconstruction works on some other smaller roads, OgunState has really become a big construction site, where top civil engineering firms now compete to prove their competence.
The construction work on major roads in Abeokuta, Ijebu Ode, Ota, Sagamu, Isheri, Magboro, Ilara, Ijohun, Ilashe, Ilishan, Ago Iwoye, Mowe, Ibafo, Ofada, Sango, Agbado, Akute, Alagbole, among others, is a manifestation of the urban renewal and infrastructural development which form part of the five cardinal programme of the Ibikunle Amosun administration’s Mission to Rebuild Ogun State.
The government commenced this urban renewal programme with the reconstruction and expansion of the 2.4 kilometre Ibara-Sokori-Totoro road which was used as a model for what is now known as ‘Ogun Standard’ roads. The already completed road came with road furniture including walkways, drainage, median with street lights and flower beds, bus stop, flyover at the Ibara junction and pedestrian bridge. All these facilities are being enjoyed by the good people of OgunState.
As at today, the seven kilometre Sagamu-Benin Express Junction/Oba Erinwole Junction road, 4.8 km Ilo Awela road in Ota, 8.7 km OGTV-Brewery junction road, 6 km Moshood Abiola Way, 34 km Lafenwa – Ayetoro road, 9 km Ojere-Asero road, 5.6 km Somorin – Ajebo road, 2.2 km Abiola Way Junction- Muda Lawal Stadium, 850 metre Moriamo Olorombo road, all in the state capital, are under construction.
Other roads being modernized by the Ogun State government are the 100 km Ilara-Ijohun-Ilase road, 25 km Ilishan-Ago Iwoye road, 29 km Mowe-Ofada-Ibafo road, 9km Ejinrin-Oluwalogbon junction in Ijebu Ode, 12 km Magboro-Underpass road, Isheri road and the very important 32 km Sango-Agbado-Ojodu Road.
These roads are being handled by PW Nigeria Limited, China Construction Engineering Company (CCEC), Hi-Tech, Borini Prono, CSCC, First August, Siktobs and Zebra Gold. Most of these roads are at different stages of completion to levels ranging from two to 30 percent and the last of the roads is expected to have been completed by December next year.
The latest road where construction just started in October is the Sango-Ojodu Road which will solve the problem of neglect suffered over the years by the numerous residents of the border towns with Lagos.
Apart from being a move aimed at fulfilling his promise to the people of OgunState and implementing part of his five cardinal programme, the road construction projects have implications for other items on Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s Mission to RebuildOgunState. For instance, other aspects of the Mission include employment generation, industrialization, affordable housing, affordable qualitative education and efficient healthcare delivery system.
With the road construction, the problem of unemployment plaguing a continuously growing state like Ogun is being tackled. The construction firms are employing thousands of skilled and unskilled workers. Their work is also contributing to shoring up the local economy as many other allied businesses like supply of sands, granite and other materials used in construction work are now thriving.
The road network is also part of the infrastructural development necessary to attract genuine investors who will like to have their companies located in a place where there is easy movement of goods and persons.
In any case, the state government is expanding the roads in readiness for the future construction of light rail to complement the road transportation system. On April 9, the government signed an agreement with the CCECC, a Chinese construction company for the construction of light rail which will link up the major cities in the state like Abeokuta, Ota, Sagamu and Ijebu Ode.
The plan, therefore, is to use the road construction to prepare the state as the next preferred investors’ destination in West Africa. The road construction projects are to be complemented by ambitious housing programme which will help to accommodate the people that will expectedly begin to relocate to OgunState in search of jobs and a safe, peaceful abode.
With over N90 billion being invested on these infrastructural development projects, there are those who wonder where the money is coming from.
The sources are many. There is the Internally Generated Revenue which has risen from the paltry sum of N700 million per month that this administration inherited on assumption of office in May 2011 to about N4 billion.
The leakages in the financial system have been blocked. There are internal loans from local banks which are being frugally dispensed. There are also funds from development partners.
Olaniyonu is Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Ogun State.