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Deplorable Igbe Road: Businesses, Residents Cry For Help

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Igbe Road

*We Will Reconstruct The Road At Appropriate Time – Ministry Of Works

Lukmon Akintola, Tomi Falade

Lagos

These reporters have heard numerous stories about the popular Igbe Road in Ikorodu. Both of them at one time plied the road and even patronised some of the businesses on the road. So, when they got reports about the current state of the road, they were not ready for what they were about to see.

On getting to the place, they did not recognise the place and were still asking their guide for directions. “This is it. This is the Igbe road,” he said.

They could not believe their eyes. A once bubbly road with businesses sprawling left and right had turned into a ghost town. And the road itself? It was beyond description. It is unfathomable at how a well-tarred road could degenerate to what was before their eyes.

Igbe road is located at Igbogbo-Bayeku Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Ikorodu.

What one could see are broken down fences, locked up businesses, by the sides and a forest, yes, a forest in the middle of the road. The road has since become unmotorable and only some skilled motorcycle riders can ply the route – only when it is not raining.

At one time, Igbe Road was the heart of the whole of Igbogbo. A major link road to connect other communities including Oke Eletu, Ginti, Igbodu, Abule Eko, Igbopa, Ilupeju, Igbe Kapo, Igbe Ogunro, Igbe Oloja, Ayetoro, Ipakan, Iponmi, Ewu Owa and Ijede town, home of the popular Egbin Power Plant, the largest power generating station in Nigeria and indeed West Africa with an installed capacity of 1,320 MW consisting of six Units of 220MW each.

Once tarred and motorable, what is left of Igbe Road today is less than a shadow of what it used to be. Simply put, the remnant of the road can only offer a limited dusty and bumpy ride devoid of anything close to comfort.

However, just when you think you have seen it all you find out that it is just the beginning and you have seen nothing yet.

A few minutes drive into Igbe Road reveals sorry sight, as a portion of the road has turned a valley with bushes taking over the main path halting all direct vehicular movement intending to connect other towns located on the road including Ijede. Aside being a valley of sort, the spoilt portion of the road which is less than one kilometre has also turned a pond of sort for ducks and other animals which find bathing in stagnant water fun.

Vehicles hoping to use the road as a link road now have to use several bypasses including Otinwa Alagbaji Street to connect back to the main Igbe Road. As discovered by Saturday INDEPENDENT, most of the bypasses now used to access Igbe Road by its residents and general road users were done by the community with no help from the government.

With the deplorable condition of the road and the fact that Igbogbo town is located in the heart of Ikorodu town, connecting other towns which should have been a piece of cake via Igbe Road has now turned a big challenge, as anyone who wishes to connect Ijede town and its environs now have to drive a stretch of almost fifteen minutes to either connect Grammar School or twenty minutes to Sabo Garage road to attempt to link another road which leads to Ijede town.

Where both roads are blocked, the only option becomes the Ikorodu Garage road which more often than not is a serious bottleneck. Having navigated through Ikorodu Garage, the journey to Ijede town takes another hour or thereabout. This is on a traffic free day. On a day when Ikorodu Garage is blocked, the time frame of the journey becomes unpredictable. This analogy shades a very bright light on the importance and usefulness of the Igbe Road to resident of Igbogbo who can escape all the troubles using Igbe Road as a link road.

A man who identified himself simply as Ahmed spoke with Saturday INDEPENDENT on the deplorable condition of Igbe Road. Ahmed revealed that the government had forgotten the people living in Igbe Road. According to him, though the road is in a sorry state, members of the community have tried to improve its condition filling a portion so at least bikes can pass through. He also revealed that several individuals from the state government had earlier visited the road and snapped pictures with promises that something would be done, also adding that till date nothing had been done.

Ahmed’s position about the residents and business owners in Igbe Road trying to manage the situation they found themselves in is confirmed by Tunde Gbolade, Chief Executive Officer of De Sleek Inn and Arena, a leading relaxation spot and hotel for fun lovers in Ikorodu axis when he said, “When we started, people kept asking, why this place? I was living at Agric. But I told them that in the hospitality parlance, it was a real getaway. We started business May 14, 2005, and the road was still as beautiful as it originally was. By and large, at about 2007, we began to notice collection of water on certain parts of the road. What we observed is that the topography of this area was not put into consideration in the way the road was constructed.

“The flow of water came from the upper part of the two ends of the road. I think geographers would call it a valley. We therefore had a valley on a road that is supposed to be straight. Of course, when there is collection of water, you start to see some defects. It continued from 2007 to 2008, so we took it upon ourselves to do something about it. I bought pumping machines; we used to have four of them, and immediately it rains, I would go with my team to pump water out into some virgin lands around the valley. The place I call the valley is where there is a forest now. We pumped the water for years, and my customers would be amazed at it. When it rains, we would pump the water and then send text messages to them to come.”

Today, the spot is virtually empty with only a few customers patronising. Gbolade recounts the good old days, “In the good days, even on weekdays, this place was a hotspot. I cannot count the number of times Obesere came to play here; Osupa, Pasuma, Taye Currency, Malaika, Atawewe, except for Adewale Ayuba and K1, other major Fuji musicians have played here. We would play live bands from Wednesday, which was the start of our peak period.”

All those were when Igbe Road was its old self, as of today almost all of those businesses have packed up.

Also, once known for being the social hub of the town, most of the hotels in the locality including De Sleek Inn and Arena; Damjay Hotel and Suites located on Alhaji Yusuf Street; Al-Peace Hotel and Suites; De Unique Hotel; De City Hotel; Eddy Bang Hotel; The Rollers Hotel among others which have not shutdown only operate skeletal services. All these places were visited by our reporters and they were virtually empty.

Gbolade further explains the situation to Saturday INDEPENDENT. According to him, “In terms of finance, we were having a turnover of about N8million a month. It has now dropped to as bad as less than N1million. In fact, I don’t have any business relationship with any bank now, because what we now make here is simply to put in the pocket and spend. It got so bad that it affected my health. I developed high blood pressure and still have it till now. I used to have about 33 staff here, now we are managing with eight. I am not the only one affected. There are houses abandoned, schools, and hospitals.”

A hairdresser Mary Aina also spoke with Saturday INDEPENDENT on the implication of the bad road. She revealed that the bad road had affected businesses, as they hardly open their shops. According to her, they opened because it didn’t rain, as the rain also worsens the situation. Indeed her statement is a fact as Saturday INDEPENDENT saw several locked up shops covered with dust creating the impression that they had not been opened in a long while.

Other businesses such as Roses of Sharon, a healthy living product company; Albert Aluko Primary and Secondary School, hospitals, churches and mosques have also not been let out in the sad fortune which has hit Igbe Road.

The deplorable condition of the road has not only affected businesses, but residents too, as many home owners have sold their houses. The numbers of lands that have been cheaply sold are countless, as land owners in Igbe Road are selling them off and bidding farewell to the community all because of the bad road. Those who have remained are hoping that just maybe someday mother luck will smile on them.

Speaking with Saturday INDEPENDENT, Funke Awoyemi, the Chairperson of Igbe Road Community Development Area (CDA), and also the Joint CDA secretary of Itedo-Oluwa CDA describes the situation in no palatable terms when she revealed that she still visited the Lagos state Ministry of Works, Alausa, Ikeja because of the issue last week.

Her words, “Last week, I was at Alausa, Ministry of Works, all on the same issue. I wanted to see the commissioner, but because I had not called to book an appointment it was unfortunate that I could not see him. He was not around. I was also told to write a letter to the Governor and see what happens, we have now done that.”

Awoyemi went on to explain prior efforts of the CDA to draw the attention of the state government to the deplorable state of the Igbe Road saying thus, “We have written to authorities, we have written to the commissioner at a time, in fact we even met with him and there were so many of us. The road was not as bad as this at the time, and we told them to come and do something on this road and even explained our predicament.

Why I said it was not as bad at the time was because the joint CDA, even at individual CDA level, we were always contributing money to do something on the road, as if there is no alternative road. We were all concerned because we had to take long detours to access parts of the road which was not convenient.”

Gbolade affirmed Awoyemi’s position and claims on reaching out to the government countless times when he explained thus “We tried our best during Tinubu and Fashola’s tenures. We even learnt that the contract was awarded to Arab Contractors. In fact, on the Bola Tinubu Way that they are working on now, it was our agitation that brought it because we wanted them to do Igbe Road. Unfortunately, the day they did the stakeholders meeting at Oreyo junction we were told that the contract that they awarded is from Lagos, through Ebute, through Bola Ahmed Tinubu Way.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu tangents with our Igbe Road, we asked Hon. Rotimi Ogunleye who represented the governor that day, which road they are doing, and they told us Igbe Road, only for us to realise that it was Bola Ahmed Tinubu Way, and our own axis is not part of it. We lobbied to those we could reach including Hon. Ogunleye and we were still exempted.”

She further shed light on the reasons why the road needs repairs emphasising the risk likely to arise from its deplorable state in this manner.

“The alternative routes are bushy and are not safe, especially at night. It’s not as if it is tarred, so one has to drive slowly. But if the main road is in good condition, the chances of ambush are minimal. We keep grading the alternative route because that is all we have, the fences of our houses are so dirty such that you would think it was never painted. We have been on this issue for so long, it is painful, stressful, and it drains us financially.”

Just as Ahmed said while speaking with Saturday INDEPENDENT earlier, Awoyemi also said it appeared that the government had forgotten them.

She told Saturday INDEPENDENT that it drains their zeal to improve the community. According to her, it makes them feel as if they are not in the plan of the government.

Reacting to the question of what the Ayangburen Of Ikorodu, Oba Kabiru Adewale Shotobi, has done about the issue, Awoyemi said, “the Kabiyesi and leaders in our community have tried their best to get government to respond but nothing is forthcoming. We still believe Governor Ambode can do something for that road. There was a time they awarded the road to Arab Contractors. Their engineers came and they started marking on the roads for people to make right of way possible. We were so excited and we jubilated. All of a sudden, government decided that they want to work on the road along Ijede axis,” she said.

Despite the difficulty they face and the seeming neglect, Awoyemi says the area voted for Ambode the first time and will vote for him once again.

“We will still vote for Ambode because we believe he can still work on Igbe road. The road is about 1.8km and it can still be added to the current project. He is sensitive to things like this. He cannot see everywhere, but I know if he is aware, he would take it up. When he came for inspection, he didn’t come to Igbe, though he went as far as Ginti.

The day they dashed our hopes was the day we held stakeholders meeting when they wanted to start the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Way. Prince Ogunleye, Baba Bashorun, Sesan Daini, Princess, the engineer in charge were all in attendance. And they said they will still do Igbe road. Meanwhile, on the map, they showed where they would work on exempting the bad part of Igbe road. That part of Igbe on the map was shaded as if it were a fictitious area. It is between us and the governor now. The level of damage on that road is extensive and only a total reconstruction will work,” she said.

Lagos state Commissioner of Works, Ade Akinsanya in a phone interview, told Saturday INDEPENDENT that he couldn’t answer questions because he was not in the country. The offer to send him a text message also failed. However; he referred us to the Public Relation Officer (PRO), of the ministry Shina Thorpe who said that the road has been captured among others to be worked on in Ikorodu. Thorpe, also said that the ministry is currently working on five roads in Ikorodu and basing its resources on preferences.

“We are working on the Bola Ahmed Tinubu road which is a major road, when we have finished that we will come to other roads. We have to consider the available resources at our disposal. For instance, you can’t work on a trunk B road without first working on a trunk A road because that is where it will lead to,” he said.

When asked if he was aware that Igbe Road was a link road to other communities, Thorpe said “it is not the only road to Ijede. We are working on the Ikorodu-Igbogbo Road; we are working on the Ikorodu-Ijede Road. At the appropriate time that road will also be constructed,” he concluded.

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