OPINION – Aregbesola's Urban Renewal Programme In The State Of Osun: New Lease Of Life; New Turn-Around
THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF OSUN ADDRESSING THE MAMMOTH CROWD DURING THE INAUGURATION OF SALVATION ARMY MIDDLE SCHOOL OSOGBO
IN the review of the ongoing infrastructural projects in the State of Osun, those projects situated at Osogbo, the state capital blaze trail. We have, in the first edition in this series explored the ugly situation of our infrastructure prior to the coming on board of the Rauf Aregbesola administration. We pointed out the spate of infrastructural decay which dominated the landscape in those dark days. We shall not at this stage be interested in boring our teeming readers with conducting the narrative of the spate of rot experienced at that time all over again. Rather, we shall concentrate on the fulfillment of our promise to showcase the numerous projects; completed or ongoing; executed by the incumbent administration in the state. Because of the numerous and widespread nature of these projects, we shall focus mainly on projects which tentacles cover the metropolis of Osogbo, the state capital. This is done so as to save time and space. Other works in other places shall be showcased as and when due under some other topics in a non-distant future time.
Since the inception of the Rauf Aregbesola administration in the State of Osun in November 2010, many giant strides have been taken, especially in the area of infrastructural development. First, upon the inauguration of the administration on November 27 that year, the very first step taken was to summon the contractors handling various projects that were abandoned, haphazardly executed or which were left at various stages of non-completion. A committee was saddled with the responsibility of mobilizing them back to site, revoking the contracts if necessitated and that of effecting the refund of the various contract sums back to the coffers of government. The assignment paid off well, as many of the hitherto abandoned roads were reopened for construction up to 100 per cent of completion. What transpired at that time was not secret to all discerning minds in the state.
Since that first frantic step was taken at the inception of the administration, the Government Unusual of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has been impacting positively on the lives of the citizenry of the state in many diverse ways; most especially, in the area of provision of road infrastructure. Till date, the Rauf Aregbesola administration has not relented in its efforts at bequeathing the legacy of good motorable roads to all nooks and crannies of the state. Apart from the many roads which have been completed and instantly put to use, many other road projects subsist at various stages of completion, and which await official commissioning at any date from hence. OSUN DEFENDER Magazine shall at this stage shift focus to the in-depth consideration of these numerous projects so as to serve as documentation and reminder for all, to attest to the fact that that the administration is working. We now turn to the apt consideration of these numerous road projects.
•Igbonna / Ago Wande / Oke Onitea / Winners’ Chapel / Ring Road Project
THIS road project, inherited by the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola from the immediate past administration in the state, was at inception time of the administration at the state of abandonment, neglect and disuse. As a matter of fact, tongues were wagging that the road project and the possibilities of its completion had become a farce. That was even as it became glaring that the fund for its construction had been released, either in part or in full to the contractor in charge of the work. It was startling and stunning to find the contractors of the project fully mobilized back to site.
Upon the assumption of office of the Aregbesola administration in November 2010, work resumed on the project, and it was brought to completion before Christmas time that year. The first test of the usefulness of the road came during the Christmas festivities of 2010; precisely on the Christmas Eve on December 24, when due to traffic congestion on all access roads (all of which were then in a terrible state of disrepair), the road under consideration came to the rescue of motorists as the only escape route to the West Bypass (popularly called Ring Road). Since that time, it became clear that if all other linking roads in the state capital could be fixed, the problems and challenges of traffic congestion would have been flung overboard.
The case of this road is just only one instance among similar ones which were reopened by the new administration of Ogbeni Aregbesola all over the State of Osun. Today, all the roads have been made perfectly motorable.
•Olu Alabi / Anaye Market Link Way
THIS road was totally in a state of disrepair at the time of the inception of the incumbent administration. The situation of the road was worsened by the presence of a bridge which had cut off; thus making smooth crossover difficult for pedestrians, not to talk of motorists. Residents of the area, especially those who were mobile with one mode of transportation or the other did not find the situation amenable at all.
The drainage situation of the area was an eyesore. There were no clear-cut drainages at the road ends. To worsen matters, the supposed gutters and beds and banks of the stream which criss-cross the area became refuse dumping grounds for residents who could not find any better alternative for their refuse disposal needs. Because of this prevailing situation, the area became perennially flood and erosion-prone; as fortunes of property and several lives were lost to the annual recurrence of erosion torrents.
One sorry sight in the area, which deserves mentioning, was indiscriminate defecation along the adjoining railway and its sides. The identified cause of this practice was the absence of toilet facilities in most residential houses, market stalls and complexes which dotted the area. This unhygienic practice has become a thing of the past today, via the proactive intervention effort of the Aregbesola administration.
Time and again during the time of the fiery siege, the searchlights of OSUN DEFENDER Magazine beamed on the ugly spectacle presented by this very area and the untold hardship which its residents were made to undergo. The disastrous floods of 2009 and 2010 in particular still remain fresh in our memories; as we reckon that the horrible experience is not what the residents of the area could forget in few years to come.
Today, the wave of Rauf Revolution has beamed to that area of the Osogbo Metropolis; not only in the area of road construction, but also in the area of environmental sanitation. The area under focus is exemplary of good sanitation practice today. The road and drainages are now perfectly well fixed. Aside this, the road is a shortcut from the earlier-mentioned one; and it also serves to avert unnecessary traffic congestion. Again, this good work came, courtesy of Ogbeni Aregbesola’s administration in the State of Osun.
•West Bypass a.k.a. Ring Road
THIS road had been in existence since the time of some military administration in the state. It was however brought to the present level of conceptualization by the administration of Chief Bisi Akande. The road, stretching from the Mobile Police Headquarters Junction /rare of Osogbo City Stadium to link the Osogbo-Iwo Road at Dele Yessir area spans between 15 and 20 kilometres. It also presents a stretch of good motorable road to motorists who intend to avoid the hustle-bustle of the township traffic. This, to a large extent, serves to reduce traffic congestion of the state capital.
Before the coming on board of the incumbent administration, the purpose of constructing this road had been almost defeated, as various forms of illegal structures had begun to litter both sides of the road. Being a new road, various forms of workshop had occupied the roadsides and junctions. As if these activities were not enough, many residents of the metropolis found the patches of bushes at the edges of the road as ample refuse dumping ground. Activities of some motorists, especially the trailer drivers were also contributing to the deteriorating condition of the road. Burning of tyres on the road, especially at nights, with a view to draw attention of other road users to damaged vehicle spots, contribute to damaging the road.
Also, other human activities like human defecation, gathering of earth and sands for building projects and selling to tipper operators and indiscriminate mounting of kiosks, stalls and other forms of movable structures for commercial activities contributed to unnecessary rapid congestion and overcrowdedness along the road. Incursions and trespasses were made into the road boundaries/limits in an indiscriminate fashion. To cap it all, the street lights installed by the immediate past administration were just like mere decoration poles adorning that stretch of road. They never really provided light at night. Thus, the stretch of road provides ample hideouts for hoodlums, gangsters and criminals to carry out their nefarious activities under the guise of nocturnal darkness.
Today, all these anomalies are being radically addressed. Potholes and other accidentals which constituted persistent causes of road carnages are being fixed and incidences of carnages are being reduced to the barest minimum. The roadsides are being prepared for ornaments, while the street divides too are being prepared for the same purpose. The street lights are also made functional as the road is now well-illuminated at nights. Also, designated bus stops and pedestrian walkways are being planned for construction along that road.
•Bisi Bamikole Road / Owoeye / Apostolic Faith / Pepsi Cola / Obelawo Axis
THIS stretch of intercity roads links Oke Onitea with Omo West Area of the city. It provides another veritable shortcut to count down on unnecessary traffic congestion and aid easy, smooth human and vehicular movement within the state capital. Before the intervention of the Aregbesola administration, the stretch of link ways was in a horrible state. The roads were a persistent source of chronic headache for pedestrians and motorists alike.
As has been mentioned for other roads earlier in this report, the roads included in this segment were also plagued with sanitation challenges before the administration of Ogbeni Aregbesola came up with its various intervention efforts. The absence of defined drainage facilities made the areas prone to water erosion and flooding to the detriment of residents. Also, residents were in the habit of indiscriminate refuse dumping. Indiscriminate defecation and emptying of sewage waste on the road were habits which had eaten deep into the fabric of the people.
Upon the approach of the intervention efforts of the Government Unusual, people were most prevalently pessimistic that the intervention would be pervading enough, especially, as the guise in vogue, which was the poser used by the previous administration was that the state was cash-squeezed; being a civil service state. But the pessimists were dumbfounded eventually, as the incumbent administration has, by its performances beaten the wildest imagination of all the people.
Not only did the intervention efforts see to the fixing of roads, but also the gutters and drains were fixed. The sanitation needs of the entire area have also been attended to promptly. The area today is a masterpiece of decency and good habitation.
•Qke Fia / Alekuwodo / Olaiya Junction
The picture shows the on-going project of beautification exercise at Alekuwodo area, Osogbo, the State capital as part of the urban renewal programme of the State Government of Osun on Sunday 08-09-2013
THIS road was initially constructed by the first military administration of Colonel Leo Segun Ajiborisa in the state. Subsequently, it received facelift from the first and second civilian administrations of Alhaji Isiaka Adeleke and Chief Bisi Akande respectively. Still, the road appeared like that of a glorified rural settlement. Its overriding importance, apart from the fact that it is situated in the heart of the state capital, is corroborated by the fact that almost all workers making it to the state capital from Iwo, Ilobu, Ejigbo, Ede and other axes of the state; even Ikirun/ Ila Orangun axes, en route Ring Road must pass through this road for one reason or the other. This road is therefore a crowd-puller, sort of.
It is in apparent recognition of the foregoing fact that the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola picked interest in the refurbishment and rehabilitation of the road to make it more effective and more useful to the teeming populace.
Long before now, efforts had been made by previous administrations in the state to decongest the road, especially by attempting to relocate the Alekuwodo Market, but these were all to no avail. Along the line, another market sprang up there. This was a market in building materials cum sawmill and plank market. All these compounded the problems associated with the congestion of the area.
There were two additional challenges closely knit to these afore-mentioned ones on this road. The first was the problem of poor channelization of drainage and water canals; while the second is the encroachment on the land acquired for use by the Nigeria Railway Corporation. Closely woven to the former was indiscriminate erection of building structures on waterways and its attendant disasters of perennial flooding; causing wanton destruction of lives and property.
All these calamitous situations have been reversed by the Government Unusual of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola within the space of three years of its dominance on the landscape of politics and governance of the State of Osun. First, the markets have been relocated with consummate ease; and without harm, injury or prejudice to affected traders. Secondly, the affected buildings on waterways have been demolished, with due compensation paid to affected property owners. Thirdly, proper channelization of canals and waterways has been carried out. These measures have helped to forestall the calamities associated with water flooding, erosion and the attendant annual disaster of destruction of lives and property. Also, the problems associated with congestion, which adversely affected human and vehicular movement have been averted.
Above all, the Oke Fia / Alekuwodo / Ola Iya Junction Road has today been rehabilitated. This has been so well done that what remains of the popular Alekuwodo Market has been fenced out from the road. The plank cum building materials market have been relocated elsewhere. The road today is so widened that there are enough tolerances for pedestrian walkways, bus stop stalls/ sheds, roadside drainages and ample fencing of residential and shopping buildings from the main road. This has so much eased tension of traffic in the axis that Alekuwodo is now an envy of all in the city. The sanitation needs of the area having been promptly attended to, the residents are today heaving sighs of relief, as they have been salvaged from the disastrous fangs of flooding and water erosion. In addition to this, the rod is now well lit to make nocturnal traffic and security easy and smooth.
•Orita Sabo / Orita Elelede / Igbonna / Owode / Oluode
These network of roads were not so good at the time of the ascension of power of the incumbent administration. They were too narrow and devoid of drainages for easy flow and passage of erosion water. Few kilometres down the Orita Elelede axis down Ahmadiyyah Junction down to Obalende could be found the ever-troublesome River Gbonmi, which was a perennial cause of water flooding.
The roads today have been fixed, with deep and wide drainages. Also, the roads are wide enough to allow for convenient roadside parking spaces for motorists. We need to emphasize it at this stage that the roads constructed so far are solidly made of asphalt and limestone dust to ensure durability. The emphasis and philosophy of the incumbent administration hinge on construction of durable roads that would be able to stand the test of time. In addition to ensuring this, the administration has, for the first time in the annals of the state, established the State of Osun Roads Maintenance Agency (OSROMA) which is intended to see to ensuring that the roads are kept in good conditions at all times as well as ensuring that they are not willfully damaged through actions and inactions of users and residents on various guises.
•Orita Gbaemu / Isale Aro / Our Lady of Saint Francis Axis Road
THIS road was in a deplorable state before the emergence of the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola in the saddle of governance in the State of Osun. That stretch of road was not wide enough for two vehicles to share at the same time. As the case was with almost all the so-called roads in the state, the road was also devoid of drainage cum sewage system. Since two oncoming vehicles could not make too convenient a use of the road, it is needless to recount the predicament which pedestrians would be facing during their daily hustle-bustle and toil on the road.
It is this road that the administration of Ogbeni Aregbesola rehabilitated as one of its earliest projects upon assumption of duty. One major importance of the road is its location that is close to the heart of the town and the ample kink it provides with important locations in the city. For instance, the link it provides with the king’s palace, the shrine of Osun river goddess, major first-generation churches and some crowd-pulling state-of-the-art schools places the stretch of road in a place of high prominence. We also reckon that the presence of the headquarters of Osogbo Local Government at Oke Baale; the Main Campus of the multi-campus State University at the same Oke Baale; and the exit to Ijesaland through Oke Ijetu requires proper alternative route which the link this road provides with Odi Olowo affords.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the Aregbesola administration took adequate and abundant care of this road upon its assumption of duty and service as the proprietor of the state. Today, the good quality of the road is still on ground to attest to our claims. To a large and reasonable extent, these roads provide wide range of access opportunities for all – pedestrians and motorists alike, within the state capital of Osogbo. We fully appreciate the construction and rehabilitation of these access roads, more so as they were done in advance of the commencement of the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Major Township and federal roads; so as to smoothen passage of traffic within the city.
We place on record how the state capital had played host to events, religious and otherwise, of national and global significance. In April 2013, the Nigerian Baptist Convention’s Centenary Annual Session was hosted in Osogbo. It was this good network of motorable roads that came to the rescue; otherwise, the mammoth crowd that graced the occasion would have been unmanageable. Other similar events which were held in quick succession include the annual conference of Ansar Ud Deen Society, the Lion’s Club and the State government’s hosting of the first-ever Oodua World Children’s Day celebrations in May 2013. It was demonstrated through these programmes that a good network of motorable roads is crucial to development in all facets.
•Odi Olowo / Baptist High School / Gbodofon / Aregbe Axis
THIS access road, an obvious exit from and link to the ever-busy Gbongan Road from the interior of the city was in a complete state of disrepair as at the time the Aregbesola administration came on board in the state in November 2010. The administration swung promptly into action in carrying out the reconstruction of that important road. Pessimists were dazzled as it transited from one stage to another until completion. Today, that road provides good ample link between the interior of the town and the exit Gbongan Road; obviously, the one and only aside the Olaiya/ Odi Olowo Road..
A practical demonstration of the importance of this road came in April 2013 during the afore-mentioned 100th Annual Session of the Nigerian Baptist Convention hosted by the Osun Conference of the denomination. The Main Venue of the Convention Session being the premises of the former Baptist Girls’ High School (now Baptist High School), Gbodofon, Osogbo, the delegates were helped to easy movement and punctual attendance at events due to the good state of our roads. Also, the non-delegate public coped amenably well with the crowd of the period through the assistance of these newly-constructed roads. Today, the roads remain useful and invaluable for our convenience and easy movement in and out of the state capital.
•Ola Iya / Odi Olowo Junction Opening
SHORTLY before the unceremonious exit of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola from office as governor of the state, traffic lights were introduced to some major junctions in the state capital. One of such junctions was the Orita Ola Iya/ Odi Olowo Junction. Other points within the state capital were the Old Garage Roundabout and the Oke Fia Roundabout. It was initially conceived (erroneously though) that the congestion of the time was due mainly to huge vehicular movement in and out of the city. The emergence of Aregbesola, a trained and seasoned Mechanical Engineer, tested and trusted, in the saddle of governance discovered other concrete causes of this unnecessary congestion.
Within the three years of the administration’s giant strides in the saddle, the Ola Iya Junction has been transformed; having been opened up with many link mouths with the main road. This has facilitated smooth and easy movement of vehicles a great deal. It has also effectively counted down on the huge volume of carnages at that junction. As at the time of compiling this report, work is earnestly in progress on the side of the defunct Ola Iya Petrol Station. It is certain that the remaining work on this side and those on the other side of the road (the Apostolic and Odi Olowo Junction) must have been completed by the end of year 2013.
•Oke Fia / Rasco Cinema / Old Garage Opening
THIS axis constituted one of the gravest trouble spot in Osogbo metropolis, especially in years preceding the emergence of the Aregbesola administration in office. In terms of environmental sanitation challenges; in terms of water erosion and flooding; in terms of indiscriminate waste disposal; the challenges were too rife to cope with. Residential and commercial structures were indiscriminately erected with gross violation to all known rules.
Beyond the Railway Crossing toward the Old Garage centre was especially perilous in all ramifications; even to the average pedestrians. The goriest event in living memory at that railway crossing is the carnage involving one intra-city commercial mini bus (korope) and a locomotive train. That accident recorded one casualty, and it is just one of the many which occurred in the city.
At the Old Garage end from Oke Fia; just after the level crossing, there also was the presence of traffic lights. But these traffic lights were not just the panacea to the myriads of problems militating against residents and passers-by of our roads. The Aregbesola administration wielded the magic wands, as it saw the timely need for broadening of the roads. Today, the road has been broadened to ease off traffic for those exiting toward the old MDS area without unnecessary delays and hiccups. Work is rapidly progressing on other sides of the road.
It is hoped that before the year shall reach its very end, the road at that point must have been completely freed of all hiccups, bottlenecks and lockjams.
AS far as the stretch of area hitherto referred to as Old Garage in Osogbo, the state capital is concerned; the Freedom Park is clearly the greatest accomplishment of the Rauf Revolution. Before the wave of success which brought the revolution came about, there was a slum patch of rickety shops and stalls where itinerant traders sold odds and ends. Right and left, at the roadsides, haphazardly-located shops and stalls, which were clearly efforts taken in the uglification process of a state capital, littered all available spaces. Before now, the Osun Capital Territory Development authority and other town planning authorities merely existed for the fun of it.
The genesis of the evolution process which brought the Freedom Park into being derived from the master plan contained in the policy document of Ogbeni Aregbesola. In that policy document, where he highlighted the Six-Point Integral Action Plan with which he vowed to govern his people; and which formed his pact with them; the seasoned administrator vowed to revamp the rail transport system as a veritable mode of transportation. For that plan to materialize properly, the railway terminus in the centre of the state capital must be standardized, cleared and provided with well-befitting warehouses.
Hence, work started on the clearing of the massive expanse. Already, the occupants knew themselves as violators and trespassers of Land Use Act; since the stretch of land belonged ever to the Nigeria Railway Corporation. Really, it was upon the actual clearing of the expanse left and right that the unsuspecting public realized that the area was so spacious!
Today, the ensuing Freedom Park is not only beautiful to behold; but also presents an ample space for decent assemblies, congresses and other forms of rendezvous. All these events being held at the venue are staunch sources of revenue for the proprietor of the space, the Government of the State of Osun. As part of the purposes of the park, motorists who have businesses to transact at the New Orisunmbare Market or elsewhere around the centre have ample spaces to park their vehicles without disturbing the flow of traffic.
•Rasco / Railway Station / Old Sawmill / Ola Iya Link
BEFORE now, making passage from Rasco Cinema end via a shortcut to Ola Iya Junction would present a spectacle of ghettos and residential buildings ready to collapse at any time or be subsumed by the spate of apparently unavoidable perennial flooding. This stretch of land as well is the property of the Nigerian Railway Corporation. Funnily, yet pitiably, many more structures were springing up daily in the area as if they could be built with impunity!
Most of these structures looked dilapidating and they were annual hosts to water flooding. During rainy seasons, many of the occupants fled to other places, pending the time when the floods would subside! Beyond the river, both at the Railway Station side and at the side overlooked by the Dugbe Police Station, there were patches of bushes which appear dangerous as they could be ready hide-outs to hoodlums and drug addicts who could be the same bunch of criminals unleashing various shades of terror on residents.
Still beyond the stream at the side of the Railway Station, was located the old Salvation Army Primary School, one of the schools chosen as demonstration sites for the State Government’s intervention initiative efforts branded the State of Osun Schools’ Infrastructure Development Project (O’SCHOOLS). Today, the new, ultra-modern Salvation