Ogun state 32 kilometre road of pains and tears

By Halimah Olamide

Inside Ogun’s Abandoned 32 Kilometre Road Where Owners of Demolished Properties, Businesses Have Become Helpless, Hapless

Three decades after it was first conceived, the 32-kilometre Sango-Agbado-Akute-Alagbole-Berger road means excruciating pains for property owners, with the government itself undecided about how best to carry the burden of a route that has thrown people into life-threatening hardship.

Residents, property and business owners of the entire stretch of Ota-Agbado-Olambe-Akute-Alagbole Road in Ogun state recount their losses, as they never envisaged their properties and sources of livelihood would be taken away from them.

Seventy-years old Elder Abdulrauf Fatunibi, the immediate past chairman of the Ogunlowo-Alagbole community and a landlord, while speaking with the NPO Reports, recalled the sad moment when his building, which had 14 rooms and mainly put out for rent as shops, were bulldozed.

Narrating on the verge of shedding tears, Fatunibi said that in 2016, government officials initially came, claiming they wanted to work on the roads.

But it was suspended, and then they later came again in 2017, marked buildings and gave them a notice of demolition.

However, just three days after they were notified of the demolition, the exercise began with Fatunibi’s building affected.

This plunged him into emotional instability, depression and frustration.

He recalled how he was assisted and consoled by a neighbour who accommodated him for a period till he could find his feet again as he said he almost committed suicide.

He further told the NPO Reports, “My building was demolished! Fourteen rooms! We didn’t get a dime from the government.

“We protested, all to no avail.

“They told all of us that were affected to come to Abeokuta, but we didn’t get anything afterwards.”

Abandoned Road Project at Ogunlowo-Alagbole, Ogun State. Photo: NPO Reports
Abandoned Road Project at Ogunlowo-Alagbole, Ogun State. Photo: NPO Reports

The NPO Reports, however discovered in the course of this report that many buildings had indeed been demolished in the same manner under the administration of Governor Ibikunle Amosun, with the road project abandoned for years.

There are many others, like Fatunibi, who have been plunged into the same heart-wrenching experiences of financial instability, agony, depression and despair.

Another resident (who however, preferred not to be named), further took the NPO Reports down his own journey of the loss.

He confirmed the demolition, explaining that he also had four shops which were all affected by the demolition. However, he said that they were instructed to fill out forms for compensation, stating the amount they wanted but were still not compensated after the struggles.

With teary eyes and a trembling voice, he narrated that since he retired from his job in November 2016, he has not had any other means of livelihood aside the money his wife makes from the wares she sells to people in the neighborhood.

He stated that he used to receive rent on his four shops before the demolition, but after the buildings were brought down, he had to use the rent of three years to reconstruct another shop, moving it backwards, for the tenants who were occupying his building at the time. He has not collected any more money from the tenants ever since.

Apart from the pangs of losses, many residents are burdened by the environmental challenges the mass demolition has brought upon them.

“It gets dusty during the dry season, and the roads become slippery during raining season. During both seasons, life is miserable,” he said

Part of the affected areas worsened due to rain. Photo: NPO Reports
Part of the affected areas worsened due to rain. Photo: NPO Reports

Despite all efforts and struggles to secure their compensation for lost properties, all have proved abortive, the CDA Chairman, Bisi Badejo, confirmed this to the NPO Reports.

He explained that they have not gone to meet the present administration officials of Governor Dapo Abiodun to push for the compensation. Their reason for this is that it was not his administration that commenced the demolition and left it halfway.

He said that part of the innumerable losses since the loss of their properties is that the sizes of their lands have reduced; sources of livelihood have been lost, and the values of the buildings have drastically gone down.


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Death of Businesses

Business owners in the community are not left out in the pains. Since the demolition of many structures alleged to be standing on the right of way for the road expansion, many schools, hotels, event halls, and mini-shopping complexes have been affected.

A shop owner who gave his name as Sikiru Hamed in the Lambe area of Ogun state narrated how his building materials business was affected.

He said in 2016, when the demolition exercise began, it started with a zeal that suggested that the road expansion project would come onstream immediately. There were high expectations.

“Many of us were initially convinced that the pains of moving our businesses inward for a better road would eventually create a better environment that would enhance our businesses.

“Sadly, that has not happened. Rather, our businesses have suffered and there are no signs that there is an end to all these,” Hamed said.

“The roads are bad, and it’s affecting businesses. People cannot ply the road to come and buy especially now that it’s rainy season, customers are not coming,” said Mr. Gbenga Ajetumobi, a tricycle rider, who also had a lot to share with the NPO Reports on the sufferings of the people.

He disclosed to the NPO Reports that he has been a tricycle operator in the area for close to 18 years just as he explained that the roads were not as deplorable as it is now.

“When the Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun came, we all liked him, because before, when you were going to Agbado in the morning and evening, there was always heavy traffic. Thee same thing happened at Akute and we later discovered that most of the powerful people had buildings constructed very close to the road side. But he came and cleared everything.

“When they started to erect the bridge, we were all excited but suddenly, after the second term election, when he was supposed to continue with the construction of the roads, we noticed it was put on hold. So, what we heard was that the next person as governor would be the one to complete the work and that is Dapo Abiodun. But he has done nothing so far.

Ajetumobi further revealed that many vehicle owners have had to abandon their vehicles to opt for public transport due to the poor state of the roads. He explained how he has to take up extra expenses almost every day on maintenance and repairs of his tricycle and the prices of replacing spoilt parts. It is extremely high.

“It has really affected not only me but everybody. We repair nearly every week, particularly when there is rain and all these things are very expensive,” he said.

An abandoned demolished building along Lambe road. Photo: NPO Report
An abandoned demolished building along Lambe road. Photo: NPO Report

The Blame Game

Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure in Ogun State, Ade Akinsanya, said NPO Reports’ inquiries are better handled by the Offices of Public Procurement and Budget which must necessarily have data since the commencement of the project apparently under the administration of former Governor Olusegun Osoba in his first coming.

While Amosun wanted was believed to be the original design of the road, a six-lane as conceived by the administration of former Governor Segun Osoba, the Dapo Abiodun administration said they have re-scaled the project from its formerly ambitious scope to what the administration believes it can manage.

Abandoned Road Projects in Lambe axis of Ogun State. Photo: NPO Reports.
Abandoned Road Projects in Lambe axis of Ogun State. Photo: NPO Reports.

The Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure had been quoted in the media to have said during one of the tours of the site recently that “the Sango-Akute-Alagbole road is a 32-kilometre road awarded by the previous administration and unfortunately abandoned. What we are doing now is that instead of six lanes, we have re-scoped the road, and our contractor is moving to the Sango-Ijoko area, working on that and, of course, the Lagos end.

“The segments one and six have been awarded. Included in the work is the palliative work that will ensure that from phase 2 to phase 5 should be motorable all the way from Sango to Yakoyo end.”

It was that palliative measure that many saw in August 2022 with construction equipment moving to some areas such as Yakoyo that angered many who claimed that patching was not what the Governor promised when he visited the area.

Perhaps, as a possible indication that the project might not go the way it was originally conceived when it was first started by the Osoba administration, and pursued under the Amosun administration before he exited government, Governor Abiodun had in August said that his government would now embark on the reconstruction of only one lane of the project.

The Governor said, “One lane of the 32 kilometres road from Sango through Ijoko to Alagbole will be done between now and December to ensure that motorists and other road users who ply the road daily, do so without stress which has been their lot for years.”

NPO Reports gathered that the decision to reduce the scope of the project amounts to the Governor facing the reality of economic crunch, which has compelled him to pick only some out of the very bad roads that dot Ogun State.

According to findings, the first phase of the reconstruction will gulp about N300 million. And that, for now, is the only publicly quoted monetary value being attached to the project.

Before then, the deplorable state of the road had caused a series of condemnations for the administration. In a way, many seem to be waiting for the next election in the state to punish the governor for the alleged abandonment of his electoral promise when campaigning for office.

    *Copy of the letter addressed to the Government of Ogun State
    *Copy of the letter addressed to the Government of Ogun State

    Inquiries over the exact appropriations for this project from the Government have not been responded to.

    After a letter which was addressed to the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure was received, NPO Reports learnt that the letter was forwarded to the Budget Office and the Office of Public Procurement, which, according to findings, have a better understanding of the time the project was conceived, how funds were appropriated and what has been spent so far.

    The State’s Commissioner for Information, Waheed Odusile, who was also contacted to ensure the response to the NPO Reports’ letter of inquiry, promised to ensure that the Office of Budget and that of the Bureau of Public Procurement respond. No response was received.

    This report is part of a collaborative investigative series by HumAngle, the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (The ICIR), NPO Reports and TheCable, facilitated by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) under its Collaborative Media Engagement for Development, Inclusivity and Accountability (CMEDIA) project, with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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