Ondo federal roads turn death traps, travellers pay deadly price daily, security agents feed fat on motorists

Peter Dada

20 September 2021

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PETER DADA examines the bad condition of federal roads in Ondo State and notes that they have been aiding activities of bandits

Travelling within or through Ondo State on the Federal Government roads has continued to become a difficult task for the motorists and travellers following  the level of deplorable condition of many of the roads.

As a matter of fact, travelling on the affected roads, which ordinarily should not be more than one hour within the state is, now taking at least two or three hours for the travellers to reach their various destinations. This has been a great challenge for the stakeholders, especially the road users. As it is now , there seems to be no clear  difference between the rural area roads and some major roads in the Sunshine State, particularly during the  rainy  season.

Some of the affected include the Akure-Owo expressway, Owo-Benin Expressway,  Ikare – Ikaram Akoko- Ajowa Road, Oka Akoko – Epinmi Road , Ipele-Ido Ani – Isua Akoko Road, Akure- Ado Ekiti Road among others.  Ondo State is a gateway state to the eastern and the northern parts of the country, hence the heaviness of traffic on the roads. It is believed that the importance of these roads to Nigerians should instigate prompt actions of the Federal Government and also to signify that the government is sensitive to the plight of the concerned motorists.

Unfortunately,  the bad condition of the roads has been aiding criminal activities as the bandits now utilise the expressways as a trap to kidnap the helpless  travellers . In the last few months, it has been reported that the criminal herdsmen operate on the roads almost on a daily basis to perpetrate their heinous activities. From the narratives of many of the victims of abduction, after being set free,  the bandits attacked their vehicles at the bad portions of the roads, when the vehicles moved at a very low speed.

For instance,  on  September 7, 2021 a bus, conveying 12 passengers was attacked by the bandits on a bad portion of the Ido-Ani – Ifira Akoko Road . Three of the  travellers were abducted while the other nine ran into a bush for safety.   Three days later, those kidnapped were rescued by the men of the Ondo State Security Network Agency also known as Amotekun. After their release, the victims identified the bad road as a major cause of their abduction. Similarly, a prominent traditional ruler in the state and Olufon of Ifon in Ose Local Government Area of the state, the late Oba Israel Adeusi was shot dead by the bandits on the Owo-Benin Expressway, last year. Investigation revealed that the late revered monarch was attacked at a bad portion of the road.  These and many other similar cases had been reported in the last one year.

It is also on the record that so many Nigerians have lost their lives as a result of  road accidents that have occurred as a result of the impassable conditions of the affected roads. Following the ugly development, it could be observed that many  people, who could afford air travel now go to the  Federal Capital Territory and some other northern parts of the country , by air rather than taking the risk of going by the road. Apparently, very few Nigerians could afford the exorbitant fare of air transport in the present day Nigeria where prices of goods and services have  skyrocketed

Some of the motorists, who spoke with our correspondent, appealed to the Federal Government to find a lasting solution to this problem as a matter of urgent public importance. Some commercial drivers  blamed the Federal Road Maintenance Agency  for not doing its statutory job of maintaining and rehabilitating the roads on a regular basis as they alleged that the roads have been calling for serious attention of the agency for the past one year.

A motorist, Mr Hakeem Ologun, blamed both the federal and state governments as well as the state and federal lawmakers from Ondo State for allegedly showing insensitivity to the plight of the people in that regard, saying the roads were abandoned because influential people   don’t ply the roads often.

He said, “We don’t have government in Ondo State.  We don’t have government in Nigeria, see the condition of these roads.  How much is it going to cost them to help us fix them? The Ore-Benin road is not good and the only road we used to pass now has been damaged by all big trucks and nothing has been done on it.

“We are appealing now to both Ondo and federal governments to come to our aid in order to fix these roads. We don’t ask for money from them but they should come and fix these bad roads for benefits of all of us.”

Another commercial driver , Mr Ladi Adegoke, who viewed the development from the security perspective,  said the governments were not serious about  fighting the insecurity if they  left the roads unrepaired. He pointed out that the bandits and kidnappers’ attacks were on the increase as a result of poor state of the roads.

“The government says it wants to fight insecurity and when you have a road that is as bad as what we  have on the Ido-Ani-Isua Akoko road, how would you fight insecurity?  Because when you stay at one point for a long time due to the bad road,  hoodlums would take the advantage to attack commuters. The police, the officials of the FRSC ( Federal Road Safety Corps)  and soldiers do disturb us on the Akure-Owo-Benin expressway,  collecting illegal money from us and we don’t have means of survival except this commercial transport. So we are calling on government to help us fix the road,” he appealed

A traveller, Alhaji Abdullaihi Aderemi who often travels on the road to Abuja from Lagos on a weekly basis described the federal roads as deathtraps, which need the urgent intervention of the state and federal governments

“We are appealing to the Federal Government to fix the road for us. These roads need government attention. It has got to the point that when you want to travel on Nigerian roads, you need prayers, specially for God protection against banditry and accidents which are mainly aided by bad roads . We live in this country as if there is no more government. It is very unfortunate” he lamented

However, a senior officer in the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, on condition of anonymity, said contracts for most of the affected roads had been awarded for full rehabilitation but there were no money to finance them because they were not part of priority roads in which borrowed  money and special funds were used to cater for  like that of the Lagos-Ibadan road and Onitsha Second Niger bridge.

When contacted on the development, the Federal Controller of Works and Housing, Akure,  Olubakinde Olajide,  declined comment on the matter, saying as a civil servant, he could not speak without the permission of his boss in Abuja .

“ I am a civil servant, I can’t just speak on anything without the permission of my permanent secretary, so if you want to interview me , you have to write to my permanent secretary in Abuja , who will give me the permission, after getting the permission, you will then come to my office for the interview,” he declared

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