I was of the opinion that keeping silence would be golden, after my last comment on the pessimism that I harboured against the mad rush to the media by Govenor Olagunsoye Oyinlola and his works commissioner, reassuring the good people of Osun State that Akoda-Olaiya–old garage Road would be ready for commissioning in April 2008.
In the article entitled “The Foolish April”, I did express my doubt about the sincerity of the duo concerning this subject matter and I castigated the month of April for making itself ridiculous for all manner of lies that are told therein. With the latest development, my silence, rather than be golden, has failed to achieve its purpose. I therefore feel obliged to revisit it so that further calamities can be averted.
I faulted the road project in its early days because of certain structural defect that I observed. That urge prompted me to visit some important personalities including some Engineers and FRSC officials whom I thought could help me advance my opinion to the level of fruition. The much I could realize was the thorough fare that we see today in front of Fabunmi filling station, Osogbo, the state capital.
The design originally did not consider the economic waste and other inconveniences that the absence of a thorough fare from the problematic bridge on Osun river to the one in front of LADSOL pure water industry might cause the innocent users of the road. That alone has doomed the project ab-initio apart from the narrowness that can no longer be rectified.
That road in question is a little less than ten kilometer stretch. Every sane mortal was of the opinion that the road would be a masterpiece not only because of its linking Osogbo, to many other towns and states but also because it links the city centre to the seat of power at Abere. It was also thought that other parts of the state capital would be accessed through various appendages to be designed so that the one-way scenario that has been the trade mark of Osogbo will be gotten rid of.
In all that is good, planning is very important and this aspect of project execution carries nothing less than forty percent of the whole time and process involved in project execution. The success one sees of any projects is achieved at the planning stage. The realization of the record time whereby projects are seen not to be unduly delayed is perfected at the planning stage. Here comes the importance of visionary leadership also.
The proverbial Israelites’ journey did not just come accidentally: it was a loss of focus that brought it about, and a journey of forty days became what could not be ended in forty years, through meandering and distraction. We have a replica with us now so handy. It is often said that if wishes are horses, beggars would ride. It is easy to prepare a pot of sumptuous vegetable soup with mere verbal description but the reality is more tasking than imagined; just like a lazy man finds it less arduous to clear hectares of land with his bare hand within ten seconds. This has been the lot of Akoda-Olaiya-Old garage road.
My assessment proper will start from the point of the thoroughfare: from where the road begins and where it terminates, there is no single bulge-out (permit me to use my layman language) that would have made it easy for motorists who intend to U-turn to do so easily. The purpose of this is to make for easy passage while at the same time not disturbing a free flow of the oncoming vehicles. If there would have been omissions, they would not have been such that are capable of claiming lives or cause damage to vehicles which to most of us are hard-earned.
Another grey area is the narrowness of the road. If people have encroached; as some actually did, the normal thing would have been to make them pay dearly for it. And if on the other hand the encroachment was as a result of the professional negligence of some government officials, they would have been compensated accordingly so that the laudable plan and purpose of government might be achieved. For an act of commission of omission to have been so discountenanced, it is a big minus on the part of government. A road so important as this would not have been so sordidly executed considering the traffic pressure that would be mounted on daily basis.
The quality of work done on the road is the worst hit. I will liken what we perceive of this road project to what has befallen Iwo-Osogbo road. The road (Iwo-Osogbo) was constructed by POAT Construction Company allegedly owned by Do-or-Die former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The road was constructed within three years and it was commissioned in 1991. It is still fresh in my memory that the road started collapsing before commissioning and because the power that-be would always operate according to the whims and caprices of behind-the-scene power brokers, they could not ask the contractors to go back to site. That road today remains a night mare for the users apart from the fact that the present administration has turned it to a conduit pipe through which the state funds, meant for advancing the course of humanity in this state is siphoned. Because of its deplorable state, lives and properties are no longer safe due to the activities of the men and women of the underworld. Daylight robbery goes on there unabated and our governor was proud to say it openly that it was the local contractors engaged to fix the road that are not performing. Yet these contractors are so invincible that they cannot be sanctioned, let alone being replaced after the contract awarded them might have been revoked.
If Iwo-Osogbo road had no genesis in the administration of Governor Oyinlola, the same cannot be said of the newly dualised Akoda-Olaiya-Old garage road. It was conceptualized by Oyinlola, though with the understanding that it is a federal road. It was designed by Oyinlola and its execution is being done under his nose. I don’t know much about Oyinlola’s military background, so it is difficult to tell you, readers whether he has or had any experience in engineering (Civil or mechanical). But whatever the case may be, that is why we have professionals and specialists in various fields being employed into government business. Were the designs thoroughly studied by this category of people? Were there reports concerning every stage of project-execution? Were there feedbacks through relevant government agencies to ascertain compliance with the master plan? Were there imputs in the general constract agreement as to what penalties would be due for non-compliance or deviation from the master plan? All these and many more questions should be answered by Oyinlola.
The road is yet to be commissioned; yet, the whole spread from the beginning to the very end is in a state of disrepair. People have been forced to take to only one lane from Akoda to Abere now because partial excavation is going on. The implication of this is that the road will be patched here and there, and eventually, there will be commissioning. Another area of concern is the bridge under construction. I had the consternation from the onset that the way and manner the bridge is being constructed is sordid. I have seen bridges being constructed in South Africa. I have seen it done in Libya. I have also seen it in Lagos, Nigeria. In all these places mentioned, one would see expertise at work. There is a Yoruba aphorism that says that if twenty years are spent to plan for madness, one wonders what number of years will be spent to actualize the act and display of lunacy. The bridge has taken too long a time to construct and this is causing too much agony and discomfort as well as psychological trauma to the road users.
I also doubt very much about the claim that the job being done on the bridge is of high quality, considering the fact that the construction company saddled with such gargantuan responsibility has no equipment of high quality to cope with the demands of the construction work going on there. Ordinary crane with adequate capacity to lift beams onto the pillars is non-existent. One needs not being a civil engineer to pick holes in the works being done there.
I have been reliably informed that so many people have lost their lives on that road recently including the driver of the ill-fated crane that inadvertently plunged into the river recently. This is apart from millions of naira that has gone down the drain as a result of damaged vehicles and properties beside the bridge. I am of the opinion that enough road signs would have been put in place to avert these ugly incidents. For a first timer on the road, it is mother luck that will prevent calamities as we have been witnessing in recent time, and nobody seems to care. More dangers are looming and I think concrete steps must be taken towards averting them.
With the recent accident on the bridge, the pillars must have been shakened to their foundations, which make them dangerous for future use. We must avert the danger this will subject lives and properties to, in the future when Oyinlola will no longer be in power. I strongly recommend that those structures already in place must be pulled down and reconstructed, not by the contractors handling the project presently but by another set who know their onions and the gritty of process that a work of such magnitude entails. Osun people should vehemently resist the continuation of that project by the crops of inexperience contractors currently handling it. The benefits of a fresh contract, will by far outweigh the money that will be newly committed to it. Let us not be deceived, that bridge, as it is now is a potential source of untimely death on completion. The road, in its entirely should also be reconstructed to make way for bulge-outs at thorough fare points and adequate widening. Anything that should be done at all is worth done well. I hope the message will get across to Mr. Governor so that the ugly experiences along Iwo-Osogbo road are not allowed to replicate.
By Samuel Ajani