Residents and passengers are groaning over the collapse of various portions of the road linking the Professor Wole Soyinka Train Station in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Daily Trust on Sunday reports.
The Olokuta-train station road, which is about 3km, has claimed two lives – a student and a pregnant woman, and destroyed socio-economic activities due to its deplorable condition and it is now in a state of total collapse.
“For instance, a truck recently killed a student coming from a school at Kemta. Because of the bad road, the driver wanted to manoeuvre a bad spot and unfortunately, he hit the student and he died,” one of the community leaders, Chief Ezekiel Olushola, said.
He added that when a pregnant woman lost her life due to the state of the road, the community leaders were forced to let out their frustration and agony.
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For residents of Laderin, Olokuta, and Idi-Aba communities in Abeokuta South Local Government Area of the state, roads in the area have become a nightmare, just as accessing the Professor Wole Soyinka train station located in the area, has become a source of worry to train users.
The Wole Soyinka Train Station is one of the 10 stations that make up the 156km Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail commissioned in 2021 by former President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, when the train station was completed by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, the government did not take into cognisance the need to fix the access roads connecting the station. Now, the Olokuta road, majorly being used by the train users and residents, is in shambles. The condition of the road got worse due to flooding.
When Daily Trust on Sunday visited the communities, it was observed that the 3km Kemta/Olokuta/Idi-Aba Road has become impassable for vehicles and only commercial motorcyclists manage to ply the road.
Different portions of the road have been washed away by erosion, giving the people no other option than to cry to both the state and federal governments for help.
Residents last week defied early morning downpour and hit the street to protest over the havoc the failed road has caused residents and cab drivers working at the train station.
Apart from the train station, it was gathered that the road also connects about 52 communities in the area.
Residents carrying placards with various inscriptions lamented the state of the road which they said has claimed lives and paralysed socio-economic activities in the area.
Some of the inscriptions read “Watch out!!! Total rehabilitation of train station road”, “Please save us from Olokuta bad roads”, “All business activities are now paralyzed along Olokuta- train station route”, “Joint Communal effort not enough again, please save our soul”, “We hardly get savings as a result of the bad train station road”, among others.
Olabisi Ogundipe, who is the Secretary of Cab Operators at the train station, said, “On a daily basis, we visit our mechanics, for minor and major repairs on our vehicles. At the end of the day, when you calculate what you have gained, you’d discover that you have spent over 70 per cent of the income on maintenance of vehicle.”
Another community leader, Babatunde Folarin, said about N20 million had been spent by residents in trying to fix the road, which he described as a disaster.
Folarin said, “It’s glaring; this is an ecological disaster affecting over 52 communities in this area. This road is totally cut off. What else can we do?
“The economic viability of this area has been destroyed. This is a disaster. It’s a failed road. This road is less than three kilometres. We have tried our best. We have done palliatives. We have called people for donations but right now, the residents are tired, we are broke.
“This is the road that leads to a federal complex, the Wole Soyinka Train Station. We know it’s a state road, but if people cannot enjoy the facility of that train station, if people cannot get there, what is the purpose? This is an embarrassment to the government. We’ve been on this for over five years and this is a new tenure. What more? How many years do we need to wait? People are dying every day.”
Folarin called on President Bola Tinubu and Governor Dapo Abiodun to urgently fix the road in order to ameliorate the sufferings of users, especially those accessing the train station.
A Community Development Association Secretary, Gbenga Odesanya, noted that the road has crumbled businesses and academics of residents and children in the area.
He said there are fears that heavy flooding may cause drowning for unsuspecting members of the community.
Odesanya said, “This road has been a major concern for every community in this area. We have over 21 CDAs on this stretch of road, and this road is very important because it’s the main access road to the Professor Soyinka train Station, Abeokuta.
“There are so many schools, so many businesses that the state of this road has affected. Two years ago, a child almost drowned close to the canal. It took the effort of community members to rescue the child.
“Whenever it rains, our children don’t go to school, all businesses are closed, and some workers can’t get to work.”
He noted that several efforts have been made by the community to get the intervention of the state government, but all proved abortive.
Another resident, Adebowale Karounwi, who described plying the road as hell, noted that his car almost got swept away by flood the last time it rained.
He said, “If it rains, you can’t pass this particular road. It will be as if you are going to hell. The other time I came to pick up my uncle, the flood almost swept my car away.”
For Collins Njoku, the road is disappointing, stressing that the state of the road did not complement the beauty of the train station.
“The road is terrible, and I am disappointed that this kind of infrastructure is here, and one has to go through this kind of road to get here. Traveling by train from one state to another is another beautiful experience. You do not have to go through this hardship to enjoy the train,” he said.
The president of Egba Economic Summit, Shina Luwoye, described the road as an embarrassment to the people of Ogun State, stressing that plying the road is like going through a jungle.
He noted that quick intervention on the road will help to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal on the people of Ogun State.
Meanwhile, the state government said it has begun preliminary roadworks on the road preparatory to a “full-blown reconstruction.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the governor on New Media, Emmanuel Ojo, in a statement, said “As promised, we have started preliminary roadworks on Olokuta-Train Station Road, in preparation for a full-blown reconstruction.”