By Abdul-Yekin Alli
FOR residents of Journalists’ Estate, Arepo, and other adjourning communities off the Lagos -Ibadan Expressway, their present ecstatic mood over the ‘birthing’ of a dualised 2.5km road can aptly be captured in Psalm 30 verse 5, which reads: ”Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning”.
This Biblical assertion is true of the sad narrative that had trailed the construction of the Arepo road, a project that outlived two past administrations in Ogun State until incumbent Governor Dapo Abiodun came to the residents’ rescue.
Arepo, a satellite town in Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, is an elite settlement with its serene ambience, and an investors’ haven of sorts. However, the main road leading to this investment-friendly estate was in a decrepit and impassable state.
Residents of the estate and other road users groaned and lamented the deplorable state of the road, and prayed for succour to come their way. Yet for long, the residents’ expectations for a motorable road remained in the realm of conjecture, as initial efforts made by former Governor Gbenga Daniel to construct the road in 2006 did not endure for long due to lack of proper drainage. However, upon assumption of office, Governor Ibikunle Amosu re-awarded the road project to an indigenous construction company in 2012.
After the award of the contract, the road was left in abeyance as Amosun failed to mobilise the contractor who in turn looked away while residents in the area groaned. Perturbed by the collapsed state of the road, frantic efforts were made by the coalition of Estates Associations to prompt the newly elected Governor Abiodun to give the Arepo road a priority. Frustrated and pained that Governor Amosun did not heed their call, in 2018, the umbrella body in the Arepo communities, Arepo Central Community Development Association, ACCDA, rolled out a Fix-the-Road initiative, a palliative measure that gulped about N18 million.
It was amid this tale of woes among Arepo residents, who wondered when succour will ever come their way, that Governor Abiodun showed up as the great comforter and a promise keeper. During his electioneering campaign to Arepo communities in 2019, he promised and assured the residents that it wasn’t going to be business as usual, that he will construct for them an all-season road to be completed within nine months with proper drainage and full electrification. Many residents who were used to the gimmick of the average Nigerian politician took Prince Abiodun’s promise with a pinch of salt. But in January 2021, Governor Abiodun signed the contract for Arepo Road, and in April 2021, the contractor was mobilised to the site.
Speaking during the flagging off ceremony, the Ogun State Commissioner for Works, Mr. Ade Akinsanya said: “The new Journalists Estate Road, Arepo will bring relief to road users along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway axis who have faced difficult times navigating their ways to their home, especially during the rainy season.
There will be no abandonment of the project because it is well funded. It is a dualised road with medium and street lights. The water will be channelled to the proper location and into the canal. Also, along the way, there will be lay-by for transporters. The drain would be covered to serve as a walkway.”
True to the governor’s promise, the quality of the job on the road which is close to 85 per cent completion is superb and a study in exemplary designs and construction. It has well laid double lane, with culverts, rain drains, dividers, a covered deep-seated and wide drainage network, lay-by and walkway.
Also, as construction work was at its peak, the leadership of the Journalists Estate Residents Development Association, JERDA, was ever proactive and interfaced with the relevant state ministries official on how the job could be done seamlessly.
Echoing his joy over the new road and quality of the job done so far, a resident of Journalist Estate, and former General Secretary of the Lagos State chapter of Nigeria Union of Journalists, Sylva Okereke said: “Quality of materials used for the reconstruction are super-standard, hence the road would withstand the test of time. The contractor is unequalled in his choice of materials for the reconstruction works.
“The simple law of value analysis shows that by implication, the value of landed properties in and around Arepo axis would shore up after the completion of the all-important community feeder road. The governor has walked his talk when he promised residents a face-lift in infrastructural developments in the area.
“This singular achievement appears to be a sharp deviation from the administrations of Governors Daniel and Amosun. The first former governor constructed the Arepo road, but it failed a test of quality, as the road caved in, in two years after its construction as a result of the naked truth, that it was built on quicksand without a waterway, otherwise known as the gutter. We thank God, that today, there is a reprieve in sight. A big thank you to Governor Abiodun and cheers to Arepo residents for their resilience amid sufferings over the years.”
Speaking in the same vein, a bakery owner who simply identified himself as Lanre, added: “When the road construction began, I was happy, because now transportation will be easier. Transportation has been one of the challenges I have been facing, but now that the road is good, I can even carry my bread outside Arepo to market.
“More businesses will relocate here and the value of properties will soar. Also, the area will witness an astronomical rise in businesses. And now new people are coming into Arepo; there are times I see new faces, and after interacting with them, I realise that they just moved in. This is good, and I know it is because now people find it easier to move about. As of 2017, I think we had only four bakeries, now we have almost 10. People will move in when they see that the area is getting fully developed, and this is very good for business. The only problem is the rent increase. Though my landlord has not increased my rent, others have complained that theirs have increased.”
An elated PoS operator named Mrs. Bisi Ojo said: “For me, it has a positive side but at the same time hurt my business, because I couldn’t open my shop after the demolition. I stayed home for two days until they were done with what they were doing, and when they were digging the drainage I couldn’t gain access to my shop. Of course, in the long run, the construction is to our benefit, it will help our business and make the area more accessible. And when the area is more accessible, that’s a good impact on our business. It is a good thing to have the road done.
“We need maintenance on the new road. Because of these bike men, once there is traffic, they tend to climb the pavement and then migrate to the wrong lane because of traffic on the road. They might end up damaging this pavement. I understand the contractors are following orders and they can’t do otherwise, and people need to cross too since there is no pedestrian bridge so the pavements can’t be higher; but government should assign a body to maintain the newly-constructed road, else these okada men will destroy it.”
It is trite to say that the joy of Arepo residents joy knows no bounds. To them, Governor Abiodun has etched his name in gold and deserves immense commendation. But beyond the ‘tokenism’ of expressing joy, a community leader in the area, Pa Afolabi Samuel, said: “As Governor Abiodun seeks re-election in 2023, all hands must be on deck by Arepo residents and beyond, to get him massive support and vote for him in next year’s election. He deserves our votes because he has wiped away our tears with this new and high-quality Arepo road and other infrastructural development.”
*Alli, a resident of Journalists Estate Arepo, wrote via: [email protected]