Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed
Hammed Shittu, in Ilorin, writes on various ongoing efforts by the Kwara State Government to alleviate the suffering of the citizens through road construction and rehabilitation processes
The essence of good governance commits elected office holders across the nation to bring dividends of democracy to the electorate and alleviate their sufferings; thereby accelerating the socio well-being of the populace.
It is by so doing that the huge neglect experienced around the many towns and villages can be tackled for the people that elected such public officials into office, to add values to the socio economic development of the society.
In Kwara State, good governance has remained the major objective of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed’s administration since assumption of office in May 29, 2011 and this has cut across the state, especially in the areas of education, health, roads, water, rural integration, and agriculture among others; in line with the continuity agenda of the present administration.
However, construction of roads has remained one of the major successes of the administration because of its multiplier effect on the socio economic growth of the state.
A good access road to outermost reaches of the state would bring development as would-be investors would be able to commit to establishing cottage industries and this would go a long way to improve the economic development of the state. Apart from the fact that it would also create employment opportunities for the teeming youths, the construction of access roads would add values to the society.
Operation No Pothole
Kwara’s giant stride in the roads construction process has opened up the nooks and crannies of the state for business opportunities, as farmers can now move their farm products to the nearby market with ease; thereby creating investment opportunities for would-be investors on agricultural development.
A comprehensive road process tagged ‘Operation No Pothole’ was instituted during the first 100 days of the administration and this has reduced various potholes created during the rainy season in the state.
In achieving this, immediately the administration assumed office, the government decided to complete the ongoing roads that were yet to see the light of the day before the expiration of the immediate past administration in the state.
This positive move has foreclosed the habit of abandoning projects that were initiated by past administrations in some states of the federation. It has also changed the face value of the state for better.
Among the roads completed during the period under review are Olunlade-Offa Garage road and Offa-Garage – Challenge road. It would be noted that the administration has constructed over 600 kilometres of roads across the three senatorial districts of the state.
Among new roads constructed during the year under review are Pakata-sooto road, Omu-aran to Landmark University road, shouldering of expansion on Sango-Oyun Bridge, and reconstruction of Ohan Bridge.
Rural Ripple Effect
Moreover, as part of the present administration’s commitment to bring dividends of democracy to the doorsteps of the citizens, the government has started another set of roads, but this time around rural roads, in its efforts to transform the state into economic prosperity.
The administration believes most farm produce come from the rural communities in the state and if the rural communities are not opened up, it would be very difficult to get such produce to a ready-made market where they can be sold to people within the state and from outside.
Also, the administration believes that there are areas in the state where gully erosion has cut off their areas; thereby making it very difficult for them to get to the town for their economic businesses.
It was for this reason that the government decided to embark on opening up of these rural areas through the construction of drainages that are scattered around the rural areas; thereby assisting the government to construct their roads so as to bring much needed development to the affected areas in the state.
Among rural roads currently undergoing rehabilitation and construction in the state are Ora-Obo Aiyegunle road, Edidi-Igbese road, Fogofolu road in Ilorin metropolis, Isale-koko-Aduralere road in Ilorin, Oro-Ijomu road, and Ejiba road, among others.
Additionally, as part of efforts to stimulate the maintenance and protection of roads in the state, the state government has put in place a potholes police committee that would be moving around all the 16 local government councils of the state to stop the cutting of roads by the members of the public for telecommunication cables, water pipes, and speed–breakers, among others.
The government believes there is need to protect the roads in the state against any deterioration through human factor, because many roads become bad in the country as a result of poor or non maintenance of such roads. In order to guard against this, the present administration has set up the committee that would ensure the protection of roads in the state.
However, speaking with journalists during a visit to the ongoing rural roads projects in the state, the state Commissioner for Works and Transport, Dr. Abubakar Kannike, said the current process across the three senatorial districts was meant to transform the economy of rural areas positively.
According to him, “the present administration will continue to live up to the yearnings of the people of the state, especially those in the rural communities, so as to bring governance to the doorsteps of the rural areas in the state”.
He said the current vision was to ensure that those citizens in the rural towns and villages complement government efforts in its new policy of shared prosperity, because a lot of wealth in the grassroots can be tapped for the economic development of the state.
The visit, which allowed the commissioner to see things for himself on how the contractors have been faring on the projects awarded to them, said such projects, when completed, would assist the rural areas to help get their farm produce to the nearby market for the economic benefit of the populace.
Kannike added that opening up rural communities remains the major goal of the administration in view of the importance of roads to the economic development of the state.
The commissioner said two bridges are being constructed on Ora-Obbo Ajegunle road, adding that the N208 million project includes the earthwork of stretching to 16 km and drains.
“The key point is to encourage inter-trade between the two agrarian communities. They had problem taking their produce to town. With this now, we've created ease of access and movement for them to bring input at the beginning of rainy season and output during harvest period. This is a typical rural road”, Kannike said.
The commissioner also said the seven-kilometer Edidi-Igbese road was a typical rural road being constructed by the government, which would be done with concrete drains, stressing that the inhabitants need to bring their goods and services into the neighbouring cities for their socio-economic activities.
He said a lot of agricultural work takes place in the hinterland of Edidi where he said a cocoa plantation is located. He also said that the state government had just awarded a 3.5 kilometer Oro-Ijomu road contract at the cost of N220 million to a contractor. He said the road was a normal state road intervention job, adding that it would be done with full asphalt and drain with six months completion period.
In one of the efforts of the present government on projects in the Ilorin metropolis, the Works commissioner said the 550-metre Fogofolu Road project in Ilorin metropolis would solve the perennial and incessant flooding problem in the area and on neighbouring Ejiba Road.
“It's part of the governor's commitment to delivering fruits of democracy that made the government to intervene. The people felt neglected before now. When we started work on Ejiba road, the people at Fogofolu road complained that they were neglected.
“So it was done with the monthly subvention of N30 million of the Kwara Road Maintenance Agency (KWARMA) meant for Operation No Pothole and direct intervention work and even creating new roads where necessary. It was meant to support whatever the office of Special Assistant on Rural Roads and the ministry gives to contractor”, he explained.
Also speaking with journalists on the state government efforts at opening up the communities, Chairman of Fogofolu Residents’ Association, Mr. Emmanuel Adeosun, said residents of the area had been suffering in silence for the past 21 years, adding that all bailout efforts had proved abortive.
Adeosun said, “We did not expect this because it came when all hope was lost. We met with the commissioner and he referred our case to the governor. Many cars had been washed away by flood. A listening government is the government of the people and that's what this government is. We appreciate you. The contractors are doing good work because we monitor them”.
Also commenting on the project, a traditional ruler, the Olora of Ora-Ayetoro, Oba Christopher Olatunji Odeyemi, said the bridge on the road had been in deplorable state for over 20 years, cutting off the area from the neighbouring Ejiu town.
He said, "We made a local one about two years ago but it got damaged quickly and we returned to the same unpleasant situation. But the present state government gave us a pleasant surprise with this new, solid and strong bridge. Before, we couldn't go to neighbouring towns and villages for anything.
“We pray for the success of this administration. We want to make it clear to you that we are in your support here we have all the basic necessity of life here at Ora typical of any community. We have electricity, water and motorable road to transport our farm produce,” he added.
The monarch said, “Now that we have the bridges, the vehicle owners will be able to cross the road. Our farm produce like yam and maize, cocoa will be easily transported to different places. We were swimming to get our load across the river before now”.