The Oyo metro community has appealed to the Federal Ministry of Works and the contractor handling the Ibadan-Oyo-Ogbomoso-Ilorin expressway for the speedy completion of the road following an auto accident that killed 15 passengers in a commuter bus on October 14.
The accident involved a 16-seater Mazda passenger bus going from Oyo to Abuja, shortly after it left the Owode motor park in Oyo. It was reportedly crushed by an articulated truck, which suddenly swerved while the bus driver was attempting to overtake.
The appeal was made on Wednesday by the Chairman, Oyo Metropolitan Development Association, Archbishop Emeritus Ayo Ladigbolu, when he led a delegation to meet with officials of the Federal Ministry of Works and representatives of the contractor, Reynolds Construction Company (RCC), at the project office along the Oyo-Ogbomoso expressway.
Speaking on behalf of the delegation, Ladigbolu said the visit, which was sequel to an earlier one about five years ago, alongside late Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, was prompted by the October 14 road accident on the Oyo section of the expressway.
Ladigbolu argued that road generally, particularly the Oyo-Ogbomoso expressway, is too strategic to social and economic development to be left in a state such that it would endanger the lives of the people it is meant to serve.
He also appealed to both the ministry and the contractor to revisit some of the unfulfilled commitments that were made to the late Oba Adeyemi III during the visit five years ago.
His words: “When we came here five years ago with a delegation headed by the late Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi III, we came primarily to commend RCC for fixing our road, especially the Oyo-Ogbomoso section. And on this visit, we will like to appreciate the efforts of the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Works in ensuring that this vital road is completed.
“As I said while welcoming former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the governor of Oyo State to Oyo for the commissioning of the Oyo-Iseyin road about four weeks ago, I laid emphasis on the importance of road. The most important, and I say that again, the most important infrastructure for human development is road. And if anyone wants to argue that with me, I am available for a debate. So any government that pays attention to making good roads for its people is considered a good government.
“But then, of course, our coming has also been prompted by the recent event on this road. Nobody can forget easily the event of 14th October. The very sad event where so many precious lives were lost. But then, who do we blame for road accidents? Except for accident investigators, it is difficult to determine who to blame. So we are not laying any blame on this visit. We are expressing our concern that the Oyo-Ogbomoso-Ilorin road has become such a popular road that we don’t want accidents; unnecessary loss of lives to give this road bad name. So, whatever the ministry can do, whatever the contractor can do to prevent future occurrences of the October 14 event, we pray that you should do it and do it with speed. Because one human life is a gift of God that no other human can duplicate or replicate.
“And, of course, we have come not only with appreciation but with a number of appeals. The Ecobank-Ajayi Crowther University section of the old road needs no talking about. We no longer refer to it as a road but a ditch.
“Also, when Kabiyesi (late Oba Adeyemi III) was sitting here five years ago, and I was in his company having led the team, he made a specific request for a u-turn at the Oba Adeyemi International Farmers’ Market. And essentially, we have stated the reason such was necessary. If people come to that market from all over the country, there should be a way for them to access that market safely. We thought it was appropriate to use this visit to lay down a reminder of the u-turn that was promised late Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi III during his lifetime.”
Ladigbolu also called attention to the bridge (interchange), popularly called ‘better life bridge,’ at the Sabo end of the expressway, which appears to have been abandoned by the contractor.
An engineer with the Federal Ministry of Works and the project supervisor, Mr. Chuks Akwali, who responded on behalf of the ministry and the contractor, assured the delegation that actions were already being taken on some of the requests, while others are in the pipeline.
“On the issue of the u-turn, it is already in our design. But as you know, we have a sequence of how this work will be done. So when we get to the time to provide it at that location, you will surely see it there.
“The accident that happened on the 14th of October was unfortunate. We have moved into action on the 16th and did an assessment of the critical sections of the old road. From Oolo to Owode, we have captured the bad sections and our recommendations had been sent to our boss. I know they are already taking action concerning that.
“As you can see at Kilometre 65 in Elete, we have already started repairs of that section. By the grace of God, we will continue that way as soon as we get approval for the other sections that had been submitted. On the issue of the bridge, that also is already in our design and it in our schedule to complete it,” Akwali said.
The 10-man delegation of the Oyo Metropolitan Development Association include its secretary, Mr. Rasheed Atanda and the Baale Akeetan, Chief Jimoh Oyeleye, who represented the traditional institution, amongst others.