Posted by News Express | 13 June 2020 | 564 times
By POPOOLA YAQUOB, Ado-Ekiti
Legal icon, Aare Afe Babalola, has threatened to lead a protest should the federal government fail to provide alternative route as work begins at the collapsed Ureje Bridge which links Ado-Ekiti to Ijan town.
The troubled road is probably the busiest in Ekiti ,as it acts as the major links to two important tertiary institutions, the Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) and the Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti.
Hundreds of commuters were stranded on Friday when the contractor handling the project suddenly shut the bridge and commence repairs without making adequate provision for alternative route.
The bridge was submerged by flooding last year and claimed some lives when a section of it collapsed. It had now cut off a section of the state capital.
The enraged Babalola who visited the site of the project Saturday morning alongside the deputy governor Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti ,Oba Rufus Adejugbe and the Ado- Local Council Chairman ,Modupe Fajuyi ,bemoaned the timing of the repairs.
Speaking to journalists after the inspection , Babalola, who chided the federal government for starting the project late, urged the residents to endure the pains in the interest of the generality of the people.
Also present at the briefing were the Deputy Governor, Chief Bisi Egbeyemi and the Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe.
The legal luminary also lamented that the closure was affecting the day-to-day activities at Afe Babalola University(ABUAD) and the Federal Polytechnic, Ado Ekiti , among other residents that were adversely affected by the closure.
He said: “This road was constructed over 90 years ago, it was a very narrow road. It is the only road that links Lagos to Lokoja and to Abuja . it was constructed by Royal Niger Company. But unfortunately, it has been neglected ever since .
“Since I started my university 11 years ago, I have been maintaining it. I have written several petitions to FG. I thought they would do their repair during dry season. Now, ABUAD community and many other areas of Ado Ekiti have been cut off.
“I expected that they would have done the repair earlier. There are two alternatives, it Is either they divide the bridge and let one section be used or the contractor should grade the road àt Igirigiri along Ado Local government as alternative route, so that the people will not suffer”.
Babalola regretted that Ekiti is the most neglected state in Nigeria, with no visible federal owned infrastructure that can boost the economy.
“If you look around, no seaport, no rail lines and the roads are just too bad. Ikare- Ado, Ado- Otun, Ado -Efon, Ado-Akure roads are all in bad shapes. I don’t know the crime we have committed to warrant this neglect.
“Some people came to report to me that they will disrupt this project and open up the road forcefully. But I beg the road users to endure this situation. But if the contractor fails to do the right , then we will take them up”, he stated.
“But let me tell you that we are going to cause trouble if they fail to provide a motor- able alternative route for us .In fact, I am going to lead the protest against the government. We cannot continue, like this we had cried out severally about this before we got to this point,” Babalola lamented.
Also speaking, the Deputy Governor, Chief Egbeyemi, directed the contractor to quickly provide alternative road to prevent the people from venting their angers on them.
“I have interrogated them(contractor) and asked them to provide alternative road. They said they have identified Igirigiri road and I have instructed them to grade the road, this road can’t be blocked without alternative, because it is a major commercial route.
“We have university and polytechnic along this route. Though, they said the road will be opened for use in six weeks. I know that if they do what they are doing sufficiently, then we will have no problem in the end.
“The best remains that they should look for alternative road and make it passable. Over 800 motors were stuck on the alternative road yesterday and that is not acceptable to us”.
In his remark, the Deputy Governor, the Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Adejugbe, appreciated the federal Government for attending to the bridge, but hinted that the construction commenced so late .
The Federal Controller of works in Ekiti, Engr Isiaq Lawal , said it was never the intention of the Federal Ministry of Works to inconvenience anybody, urging the populace to cooperate with them for the success of the project.
“A structure of this nature requires 28 days to get its strength and it is the national and international standard. We are pleading for understanding, so that we can get out of the problem we are encountering . What will be the FG’s interest to inconvenience anyone?
” I met with Ekiti government to inform them before we started . We identified alternative road, but we are going to make it motorable, people should bear with us pending the time the bridge will be completed”. (Saturday Independent)
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