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By Oluwaseun Akingboye, Akure
The jubilation could not be masked; after enduring a long period of the abandoned road spanning over 20 years, residents, motorists and farmers in Afin and Eshe, both in Akoko North-West Local Government Area of Ondo State, are looking forward to a new lease of life after Governor Rotimi Akeredolu kicked off the road rehabilitation last week.
Residents, who had been battling with the deplorable state of the 29km Oke-Agbe-Irun-Afin-Ese-Ogbagi road, were full of hope and excitement when they saw earth-moving road equipment working on the road. The road had been abandoned for over 20 years, making it difficult for both human and vehicular movements, while motorcycles became the most popular means of transportation, charging exorbitant fares.
The newfound enthusiasm could be explained: It is an admitted fact that the level of economic development in any society directly depends on the development of its infrastructure, which in effect robs off positively on the development of other sectors of the economy. The road infrastructure is therefore critical to the economic activities of the agrarian communities in the axis.
A community leader, Alhaji Ibrahim Kilani, said socio-economic activities in the area had worsened, as farmers couldn’t get their farm produces transported to the market. He commended Governor Akeredolu for not forgetting rural communities who were predominantly farmers and relied on farm produces to make ends meet. He noted that both Afin and Eshe communities would never forget the governor, as this would equally reduce rural urban migration by young school leavers.
“The sorry state of the road has done incalculable damage to the economic life and activities of the locals, who are mostly peasant farmers and traders. They have lost farm products and goods worth several millions of Naira due to the poor state of the road. We are however optimistic that the construction of the road will guarantee economic growth and alleviation of poverty,” he said.
A transporter, Mr. Abu Temitero, expressed hope that the state government would put contractors on their toes to complete the road project on schedule, just as a market women leader and the Oloribirin of Afin, Mrs. Abike Akintola, commended the governor for coming to the rescue of the ancient towns. She noted that market women would now be patronising both Afin and Eshe markets for fresh farm produce.
The governor, who realised the crucial role of solid infrastructure in engendering social and economic development, had vowed during his election campaign to connect the three senatorial districts with standard road networks. In fulfillment of his promise, several graders, bulldozers and other earth-moving equipment of various sizes have been mobilised to construct roads in order to link all the 18 local government areas of the state.
From Oke-Agbe, headquarter of the local government area, to Irun, Ogbagi and others, the people are ecstatic about what they have tagged an end to years of suffering. For many years, they have sought for succour to their major challenge, which had been the lack of roads linking communities together.
Traditional rulers in Akoko North-West, including the Owa of Ogbagi, Zaki of Arigidi, Eleriti of Eriti and Olubaram of Ibaram, in unison said the state government’s decision to construct the road would end “an era of backwardness’ and “give hope of new life” in the affected communities.
The Commissioner for Works, Saka Yusuf Ogunleye, said the road would be constructed to meet global standard.
The communities play host to public institutions such as Ondo State Law Commission, Ondo State College of Health Technology, the state chapter of National Union of Teachers Guest House, Federal Government Silos, Federal Government Library, and the Akure South office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, among others.
Source; The Guardian Nigeria News