THE age long narrative of agony of community dwellers along Iseyin-Ogbomoso road especially in the transportation of their farm produce to the market has become a thing of the past with the construction of a long stretch 76km Iseyin-Ogbomoso road. Soji Ajibola recently took a tour of the road and writes on its impact on the beneficiaries.

Infrastructural development, especially the construction of roads to link the various communities in the three senatorial districts in the state remains the topmost priority of Governor Seyi Makinde-led administration.

In the past five years, an average of 600km of roads made up of intra and inter city roads have been rehabilitated and constructed on a virgin land across the 33 local government areas of the state. Some of the roads are; Moniya- Iseyin road, Theophilus Akinyele way,  Onipepeye road, Oyo-Iseyin road, Ibadan-Airport road Olorunsogo-Akanran road, Eruwa road to mention but few.

This development has endeared the present administration to the heart of the people as many have noted the economic impact and other benefits to the affected communities. Most of the rural communities in the three senatorial districts are now developing at a fast rate as the government infrastructural policy is gradually bringing an end to the rural-urban migration.

Most of the communities, prior to the advent of the present administration had been deserted as they could not be accessed due to bad roads and lack of other basic amenities. Farmers in the affected communities were worst hit as they could not transport their farm produce to the nearest market because of the bad roads. Also, some of the produce got spoilt in the process thereby resulting into an unquantifiable loss.

After noting the importance of agricultural sector to the economic growth of the state, Governor Makinde-led administration decided to open up the rural areas through massive roads rehabilitation/construction. One of such projects is a newly constructed 76km Iseyin-Ogbomoso road which to the dwellers looked like a dream that will never come to reality.

Many administrations had in the past promised the different communities that fall within the axis motorable roads, but this never come to a reality. When Governor Makinde, on assumption of office made similar promise, they saw it as a political talk that would not be actualized but they were shocked when the workers were mobilised to the site.

With the construction of Iseyin-Ogbomoso road, Makinde becomes the first governor in the political anal of the state to construct a long stretch 76km road on a virgin land. Not only this, the project was completed within a space of one year even with the fluctuating monthly allocation from the federation account which is occasioned by the economic depression.

In order to ensure a quality job, the contract was awarded to the two giant construction firms, KOPEK and Craneburg not minding the costs. The community dwellers that fall within the axis testified to the quality of the job as they described it as long lasting job.

The value of properties in the affected areas has also witnessed a geometric increase as a plot of land that was previously sold for N150,000 now goes for between N1m and N1.5m. Also, it has eased the traffic congestion along Oyo-Ogbomoso-Ilorin road as motorists now see the newly constructed road as an alternative.

Former Commissioner for Works, Oyo State, Professor Raphael Afonja lauded Governor Makinde’s policy on infrastructural development as he submitted that “It is important that we understand that the baseline behind Governor Makinde’s vision on infrastructure development is to connect Oyo State in order to enable farmers, business owners, miners and all that have access to opportunities that can make the state economically viable.

“Opening new roads means giving people the opportunity to have access to new spaces, new lands in places that have never been looked at as places where there can be opportunities to host some kind of businesses.

In his assessment, Comrade Alhaji Rafiu Elewa, Unit 2 PMS chairman, Express, Iseyin said:  “We appreciate this because it used to take drivers four to five hours to get to Ilorin. We used to first go to Oyo and then to Ogbomoso to connect Ilorin and everyone knows the state of that road. We never thought we could ever travel to Ogbomoso or Ilorin without first reaching Oyo, but that has happened now. The people of Oke-Ogun are happy with this development.

“Now, in one hour and 30 minutes, we can get to Ogbomoso from here. And for those going to Ilorin, it could take up to two hours. So, we commend Governor Makinde for this great feat, which will affect our lives positively.

“Since the government completed the road, it has gained more traffic as people now prefer to pass through the route. Those coming from the North and other parts of South-West now use the road, because it is easy for them.”

A hotelier and the Adimula of Iseyinland, High Chief Ifasoji Fashola said, “I am very happy over this project. A lot of people told me when I started a hotel project on this route that I should not have built a hotel in an undeveloped area. But as a Babalawo, I had consulted Ifa and Ifa told me that a road will come up here, but I didn’t know when.

“I have had the land for a long time and I divined to ask what I should do with it and Ifa told me I should build a hotel. I also felt nearly discouraged, because the small road in the area was impassable.

“When I told my friends that Ifa said I should build a hotel on this land; some of them said Ifa lied but I said that I would follow Ifa’s dictate. Some of them even mocked me that I was building a hotel for ghosts and that continued until we heard that Governor Makinde wanted to build this road. No one thought that any government would open this road in 20 or 30 years, because it is a new road. It was a surprise to us. Let me also say that when I started building the hotel, people said I should use all my land and I told them that Ifa said a road would pass through here and I didn’t want to have any issue. When they were opening the road; the contractors were surprised that I left a wide setback.

“I appreciate our governor; he is a fortunate man. There is no amount of prayers that one can offer that will be enough, but anywhere he is; I am sure his prayers will always be answered because he has been doing what makes people happy. When I came here about 15 years ago, land was sold for a very cheap amount but today, if you are going to buy land close to the road, you have to spend millions. Before the road was started, the highest cost for a plot of land was N250,000 but it is about 10 times higher now. The area has picked up and people have been building houses.

“The governor has done well. May God continue to be with him. Look at the number of people that will ply this road and will eke out a living on the road. The road has also reduced the stress of going through Oyo to access Ogbomoso and Ilorin. Now, anyone going to Ogbomoso or Ilorin will just go straight. We are grateful to the governor for his commitment to developing the state.”

At AGIP Area, Iseyin, where the road started one of the  residents  Lateef Suliyat, a cloth seller in Iseyin, when asked how she used to cope with the dust before the Iseyin-Fapote-Ogbomoso Road was fixed, said: “We had no other choice than to continue to trade even with the bad condition of the road back then. You know, we had to survive.

“What I always did was to make sure clothing materials, especially white ones, are not exposed so that they don’t become dirty or rough before customers buy them. But with the road done by the government, things have changed. We appreciate Governor Makinde for fixing the road for us.”

Alhaji Salaudeen Bamidele, a resident of Iseyin, had this to say: “Our governor is a promise-keeper and he has been doing extremely well. This road project is a very laudable one, which we are all happy about. I pray that God will continue to strengthen him. Where I am presently is where we call ‘Ile Ago.’ This road was not like this before but when the time came for the government to fix it, we showed cooperation and, now, we are enjoying it. Though some structures were affected, we appreciate the development that we are witnessing today in Iseyin.”

Adeleye Akinkunmi, another resident in the area, said: “I was born in Ahoro Dada and I had my education there before I left for Ogbomoso. From here to Ogbomoso, there used to be only one way; we used to go to Odo-Oba first before we could access Ogbomoso. But when the governor did this road, we were very happy with the development. This new road used to be a thick forest. There was no road here before, not even a foot path. Now, the bush has been turned to a road.

“Before the road was done, a plot of land used to be sold for N70,000, but now that development has come, the price has gone to N200,000. The governor really tried, because people had no hope that a road could be created on this route. We also doubted when they started the construction of the road. But now, we are happy, because Ahoro Dada to Ogbomoso, which used to be about 40km, is now 21 km through the new road.”

To Mr Sheriff Akanji, a commercial driver from Abeokuta: “This road is a great blessing to us drivers that ply Abeokuta-Ilorin, Lagos-Ilorin roads and so on. Ever since we heard that the governor wanted to build a road linking Ogbomoso to Iseyin, we have been praying for him. This is my first time passing the road and I am surprised that a governor can start and finish a 76km road this fast. I have heard so many things about Makinde, but this road here confirms that what they say about him is true; that he cares for his people. If not, he would not have opened a road where there was none before.”

The Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Afolabi Ghandi Olaoye appreciated the governor for the road as it connected two zones of Ogbomoso and Oke-Ogun. This, he said, will bring about enormous relationship between the two zones, promote commerce and agriculture. He added that the road will also boost trade and agriculture in the Northern part of the state.

Oba Olaoye, who spoke through his spokesman, Rev Peter Olaoye, said: “We have always been relating together but this will bring us closer. The two zones have a lot in farming and when they harvest, they need roads to take the produce to the markets. One thing is to do the farming, another is the good road to transfer to the market. This will boost trade and farming. Another importance is that this road will help lecturers and students of the LAUTECH Iseyin campus in their commuting.”