A Community’s Solution

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After the government’s seeming abandonment of the roads in Arepo, an Ogun State community, local residents took it upon themselves to fix the problems, writes Peter Uzoho

Recently, the people of Arepo convened a meeting. The goal was to raise money to fix the community’s terrible roads, starting with the construction of a 1.2km road. This was a decision taken after endlessly waiting for its state government to come to its aid.

Arepo is a satellite town off the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, and it is noted for its delightful settlement and magnificent structures. But, recently, the community has witnessed some mass exodus due to the terrible state of its road network.

According to some observers, the area, which is home to Journalists’ Estate and several choice estates, is the next prime location after Magodo, where a plot of land cost as much as N15 million, but the sorry state of the estate in terms of road infrastructure has affected the quality of life and value of investment in the area.

However, to change the narrative, the residents, who had embarked on a ‘Yes, we can fix our road’ initiative, said they are prepared to rescue their estate after repeated attempts to engage the state government failed to yield result.

Speaking at the kick-off and fundraising of the communal effort recently, president of Arepo Central Community Development Association (ACCDA), Mr. Kehinde Adeyemo, said the move was galvanised by the failure of the Ogun State Government to keep its promise.

Adeyemo, a quantity surveyor, said the community has spent N18 million cumulatively on the project, while the first phase of the main access road cost N8 million. According to him, the main access road was awarded six years ago at the inception of Governor Amosun’s administration and ever since, residents have been engaging the government on the need to come to their aid, all to no avail.

Specifically, he said the road was awarded to First August construction firm in November 2012 under Contract 11 with a signpost erected at the Journalist Estate Phase 1 gate and has since remained untouched and impassable for motorists and pedestrians.

He said: “The road awarded to First August November 2012 under contract 11 with a sign post erected at the Journalists Estate Phase 1 gate end has since remained untouched and impassable for the motorists and pedestrians as well.

“I recall when we discovered that the road was going to cut into two due to erosion at the gate of NUJ 2, we gathered funds together and we commenced the culvert. But before we moved to the second stage of culvert construction, the State Ministry of Works came and help us out.

“Also when His Excellency Governor Ibikunle Amosun came in year 2015 to seek re-election, we made it clear that the road was our priority because of the pain we are going through on a daily basis but we are still expecting them up till today.

“Each time we appeal to the state government, he used to give us assurance that the road would be fixed during his tenure. Because of our concern for the road, we became close to almost everybody in the corridors of power in Abeokuta. Sadly enough, all we got were empty promises. It was while we were appealing at our end here that the state government contracted and constructed Magboro road. While we are not averse to this, we however felt neglected and disappointed. However, as disappointed as we felt, we equally resolved that the pain we usually pass through every rainy season should end.

Adeyemo also noted that things usually get worse when the rains come.

“During rainy season, we sometimes record casualties on this road especially among pregnant women and children because the road is completely not motorable while everybody resorts to Okada and we all know how vulnerable women and children are under this avoidable but pathetic situation,” he said. “So far, residents of Arepo have spent over N18 million cumulatively both from the general purse of ACCDA and individual estates efforts are ameliorating their pain arising from bad roads.

“It is particularly saddening that of all efforts that we made in ensuring that this government comes to power, this level of neglect is what we are getting from this government.”

Speaking further, Mr Adeyemo urged every resident to contribute to the initiative.

He said: “Today we are saying if all of us can come together with the money we are using to fix our cars and we pull the resources together, we can achieve a smooth hard surfaced road in Arepo. We are calling on all landlords and residents to support this course. We propose a minimum of N100,000 per household.

“Our current efforts are in addition to several palliative measures we have taken on the poor state of this road. You are all aware of regular sound filling and gradings that have been done at regular intervals in the past.

“We don’t expect that everyone will drop it immediately but if we have the project in mind with N10,000 monthly, we would make it in 10 months or N5,000 monthly it can be done in less than two years.

“We want to assure all ACCDA members and Arepo residents of prudent and fund management and accountability. We shall post regular updates on a notice board at the gate house and on the ACCDA WhatsApp platform.

“We need every kobo we can raise through the support and participation of all to fix this access road. While we are aware of Governor Akinwumi Ambode’s plan to construct a road linking Isawo-Arepo, we want us to wake up to our own reality.”

Also, the chairman of Shalom Estate, one of the numerous estates in the community, Mr. Shina Shitu, said the project started with a lot of doubt but reality on ground has shown that residents are willing to help themselves by donating generously towards the project.

He urged the officials of the executive committee not to relent in the task ahead in order to improve the quality of life and the value of the estate, which he said is fast deteriorating.