By Rotimi Ojomoyela, Ado-Ekiti
Chief Afe Babalola(SAN), has described the event leading to the collapsed of some bridges in the state as a reflection of gross neglect of the state by the Federal Government.
The Founder of Afe Babelola University (ABUAD), expressed sadness over the death of a man during the collapse of the bridge after a torrential downpour on Monday evening, saying the incident was a national disaster.
The bridge on Ureje bridge along Ado-ABUAD-Ikare road was on Monday washed away by flood, leading to the death of a man and drowning of two others
Several commuters coming in and out of Ado Ekiti capital city were stranded for several hours and had to spend the night, keeping vigil by the collapsed bridge to allow the water recede, from 7pm on Monday till 12 noon on Tuesday.
Speaking with journalists at ABUAD on Wednesday, Babalola said several efforts he made to the federal and state governments to rebuild the bridge on Ureje river were rebuffed, which he said led to the calamity.
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Babalola regretted that “for the past nine years, I have been maintaining that road but this year after series of letters, Federal Road Maintenance Agency(FERMA) wrote to me informing that they have awarded the road to a contractor and I have been following the contractor day and night.
“What I know which is true is that the contractor had done more damage to the road than helping us. I wrote about the bridge to all those concerned; federal ministry of works and copy the President. I also wrote letters to the state governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi because I knew that road was neglected by the contractor and the federal government.
“Indeed, Ekiti state is the most neglected state in this country. Look at the road between Ilesha and Ado-Ekiti, it was made over 20 years ago. This road from Ado-Ekiti to Ijan to Ode to Ikare to Lokoja was build before I was born over 100 years ago.
“That bridge which you saw was also built over 100 years ago, that narrow bridge. When I was in school, we used to trek from that place to the Ogbese river in order to cut what we called prank cane to make chairs and wooden ceilings along that route.
“Nothing has been done to improve the bridge. I have been writing, phoning, sending text messages about that bridge will collapse anytime. I warn all of them, including the governor that it will collapse that something should be done
“When it happened two days ago, I sent text messages to Fayemi that what I told you should not happen has happened. I also got in touch with Minister of Works, who eventually phoned me that they were going to do something about the bridge.
” I sent messages to monarchs and others. In the afternoon, I got a text from Fayemi that some people will come the following day to work on it. Fashola told me they are moving there immediately. I went to the bridge and I saw them working there.
“My team of engineers have been there early in the morning. No heavy truck or vehicle should pass that place otherwise it will go down.
“What we need is a new bridge and a dual carriage road from Ado-Ekiti to the university, which is only 15kilometers. I don’t know why the road has not been repaired. I hope now with what has happened, things will change. I went through Afao to Igbemo to Iluomoba to the university. It takes me about One and a half hours to get to the university on Tuesday instead of 15 minutes.
“As I said, Ekiti is the most neglected state in this part of the world. Secondly, I protested in the usual way. Former President Obasanjo did little work on the road and you can see it has not been completed.
“Again, I was a lawyer to the federal government, Obasanjo again work on it from Itawure to Ado-Ekiti, a dual carriage, since he left it is all forest”.
Corroborating the level of neglect if Ekiti, Babalola said the road from Ado-Ekiti to Akure, Ondo State capital, is one of the worst roads in the country.
“What I will continue to do now is to continue to pile pressure to those responsible and in authority for us to have good infrastructures, because, without good infrastructures, nobody can come to the university. You know we are suffering here”