- Such action needless, monarch warns
Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
Residents of Ekiti West Local Government Area, Ekiti State saturday said they would stage protest the slow pace at which the federal government was working on the collapsed bridge that connect Erio Ekiti with Aramoko Ekiti and Efon Alaaye in the state.
The residents also said the collapsed bridge had subjected motorists to undue hardship and destroyed local economy, especially that of roadside traders whose livelihood depended on the functionality of the federal that connects five LGAs together.
They expressed their frustration saturday when THISDAY visited the scene of the collapse bridge in Erio Ekiti.
They said that despite public outcry about the economic importance of the Efon-Erio-Aramoko expressway, the federal government had not done much.
The bridge, which was constructed during the administration of Chief Obafemi Awolowo as the Premier of Western Region, caved due to persistent rainfall flooding few weeks ago, thereby creating bottleneck that made the bridge almost impassable.
Consequently, most commuters had abandoned the expressway to avoid undue hardship. But the traffic diversion had caused much setback for local economy, a situation that compelled roadside traders to contribute a sum of N250, 000 to fix the federal road.
The action of the roadside traders was predicated on the fact that it was affecting their businesses because traffic had been diverted to the Ita Ure-Efon-Iwaraja, an alternative road.
Decrying the state of the bridge yesterday, a youth leader in the LGA, Mr. Sunday Aderibigbe said his colleagues were already rallying their members to stage a protest and compel the federal government to expedite action to restore normalcy to the highway.
Aderibigbe said although the state governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi had approved N19 million to carry out palliative works on the collapsed bridge, that would not be enough to abate the problem.
He said the youths of the town “are agitated and becoming restive over the danger the portion of the highway constituted to the lives and properties of commuters and residents.
“The youths, especially commercial motorcycle operators riders who regularly ply Erio-Efon routes, Okemesi-Ido Ile routes and other villages are anxious because their sales have dropped.
“Even some of the traders who are making high sales before have been suffering loss because commuters now prefer to travel Ado-Ilawe road and Efon-Iwaraja road, thereby affecting their daily earnings and livelihoods,” Aderibigbe explained.
Another resident in the LGA, Mr. Lawrence Joachim said they had been facing serious impediment in conveying their agriculture produce to the market since the bridge collapsed.
He said: “Our produces are getting bad in the farm, because the vehicles could not cross that collapsed portion. There is little commercial motorcycles can carry. We are not happy. we want action to prevent youth restiveness in the LGAs that the bridge connects.”
However, Elerio of Erio Ekiti, Oba Johnson Bamigbade countered the position canvassed by the youths, saying there was no reason for anyone to plan any protest over the collapsed bridge.
Bamigbade added that the consistent flooding caused by downpour across the country ravaged so many states and Ekiti as a component state could not have been an exemption.
He commended Fayemi for immediately swinging into action by ordering palliative work, saying this had actually reinforced the people’s confidence in governance and leadership.
“There is no need to protest. The state government has begun work on the bridge. In a few days, it will be passable. The protest could have been legitimate, if the state government had not done anything on the road. But Fayemi is taking very proactive action.
“Apart from the palliative action, the state government had created alternative road for commuters pending the time another bridge will be constructed. The flood that occurred across the federation brought about this problem. Ekiti cannot be an exemption.
“So, nothing unusual happens. Since the state government is taking serious action, there is no need for protest, even I do not want any problem in my domain”, he warned.