Femi Ogbonnikan writes on the progress being made by the reinvigorated Ogun State Public Works Agency (OGPWA), a brain child of Prince Dapo Abiodun, the state governor. It was established to rehabilitate bad roads in the 236 wards across the state
Any responsible government will place premium on the provision of good road network for the smooth movement of people and goods from one location to another. This is precisely what Governor Dapo Abiodun has been doing in Ogun State. His government appreciates the economic benefits good road network plays in attracting investors. Apart from serving as impetus for industrialisation, good roads aid job creation and also help shore up the revenue base of the government.
This is why Governor Abiodun decided to rehabilitate all abandoned roads, both township and rural, to enhance industrial growth and to also improve the lot of the people. While demonstrating his commitment to the rehabilitation of existing roads – township and rural – the governor, at the presentation of the 2020 budget, christened, “Budget to Build Our Future Together”, before the State House of Assembly, on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, said: “Infrastructure, for us, is key to development. We have been able to demonstrate commitment to the continued socio-economic development of our dear state, particularly in education, health, infrastructure and other key sectors that have direct and positive impact on our people.
“You will recall that we requested that our people should select roads that should attract immediate attention in each of the 236 wards across our dear state. These roads are receiving immediate intervention. This is in addition to government’s identified projects that will be spread across the three senatorial districts of our dear state. We have started the rehabilitation of rural and township roads across the three senatorial districts of our dear state. This necessitated the establishment of the Ogun State Public Works Agency (OGPWA) which has proven to be an efficient, responsive and cost-effective strategy of rehabilitating roads. We have started with some in the last few months.
“The OGPWA is today present and visible in different parts of our dear state, working round the clock to fix roads. The establishment of the OGPWA is part of our commitment to accelerate massive road rehabilitation towards enhancing job creation, poverty alleviation, food security, open up the locked areas for development, and generally ease commuting and movement of goods and materials; thereby ensuring the continued infrastructure growth of our dear state’s economy.
“Opening up our rural roads in particular, will boost agriculture and development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. I must inform you that we have also identified areas where we need to direct our immediate attention. For example, our industrial hubs -Agbara-Atan-Ota axis, Ewekoro-Ifo axis, Sagamu-Ogijo axis – among others, are getting special attention. “We also recognise that to take full advantage of our proximity to Lagos, we have embarked on some key joint initiatives with Lagos State government.
“First, we have presented a joint request to the President to release two major expressways to the two states for rehabilitation and maintenance in collaboration with private sector partners. These roads are Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Expressway and Ikorodu-Sagamu road. This request is receiving attention and is being vigorously pursued. The second and even broader collaborative initiative is the establishment of a number of issues, particularly along our border towns. The local areas include infrastructure, physical planning, security, transportation management and revenue. On our own, the contract for the 13.4 kilometre Epe-Ijebu-Ode road is being perfected and will soon be awarded.”
A sum total of N107.964 billion, representing 24 % of the aggregate budget of N449.974 billion was earmarked for the infrastructure sector of the economy of the state in 2020. Towards actualising the task, the administration undertook the resuscitation and revival of the moribund Ogun State Road Maintenance Agency (OGROMA) and re-christened it, Ogun State Public Works Agency (OGPWA) through a bill sent to the State House of Assembly for assent.
At the helm of affairs of this Agency, Mr. Gbenga Akintola (consultant to the governor on Public Works) and Engr Ade Akinsanya (Consultant to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure), have brought their individual experiences to bear on repositioning the Agency and making it more effective in service delivery to the people of Ogun State. The duo has at various capacities served in the administration of Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), the then, Lagos State Governor.
Having been given the legal teeth to begin full operation, the Agency has made its presence felt in all the three senatorial districts where strategic roads were identified for rehabilitation.
The state, it was learnt, was divided into six zones as follows; Ijebu-Ode, Sagamu, Abeokuta Central, Ilaro, Ifo and Ota, and they are being managed by six regional well-tested engineers who report directly to two directors. A director takes charge of Ijebu-Ode and Sagamu, while the other is responsible for Abeokuta Central, Ilaro, Ifo and Ota.
Under each zone, the Agency has maintenance gangs who are being deployed, as many as possible, to where they are needed to rehabilitate bad portions of the roads. It has also gone into synergy with other agencies, like the Traffic Road Compliance and Enforcement (TRACE), Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and others to avoid duplication of efforts and waste of scarce (financial, human and material) resources in the discharge of their respective statutory duties. On the other hand, the synergy affords the OGPWA ample opportunities to expedite actions, in conjunction with the other Agencies.
To enhance dynamic and robust working relationships, the Agency has a feedback mechanism unit that helps to obtain relevant information from the public about the deplorable state of the roads in various communities within the state through good communication channels. The communication channels afford members of the public to write letters to the Agency, make enquiries via, www.ogpwa.org.ng and also call a dedicated line, 07037771967. It was learnt, no fewer than 160 messages are received and processed everyday on complaints bordering on the maintenance of roads (be it the Federal or State) that fall within the purview of the state.
While underscoring the importance of the Agency, the government is striving to ensure that the state is developing and the road infrastructure is seen as a collective heritage. Hence, a lot is expected from the citizenry for their support and co-operation, while the government is doing all it could in the provision and maintenance of infrastructure.
While not relenting in its task, the Agency has equally embarked on an advocacy programme that would help to eliminate or reduce to the barest limit, some habits the citizens have unfortunately inculcated over a long period of time. These habits, include dumping of refuse in drainage channels, indiscriminate cutting or digging of roads without approvals, excessive axle-load, siting of car wash facility without proper drainage channels, cooking on road sides, plying roads with flat tyres, burning of tyres on roads, turning of roads into mechanic workshops and others, that ultimately result into the issue of pollution arising from the allied products, engine oil, diesel that would be released on asphalt pavements and in turn lead to their disintegration, thus, compromising structural integrity.
However, there is an advocacy programme that will involve enlightening primary and secondary school students, religious organisations, professional bodies, security agencies and other critical stakeholders about the dangers inherent in the abuse of the road infrastructure.
Ogbonnikan is a Media Consultant to the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, MFR .