Last Thursday, the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, kicked off the reconstruction of Atan-Lusada-Agbara road abandoned by previous administrations and inaugurated the 10.25km Lusada-Igbesa road, reports OKWY IROEGBU-CHIKEZIE.
There is a link between infrastructure development and economic prosperity because it attracts businesses and lifts the public out of poverty.
Commuting from Ota to Agbara is an ordeal as a result of the dilapidated condition of the road. It becomes tortuous from Atan to Lusada. Don’t forget that the stretch is home to three private universities – Bells University of Technology, Covenant University and Crawford University – that should attract development but it didn’t happen until recently with the administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun.
A tour of the axis showed manufacturing firms that closed their operations with gates and warehouses padlocked, filling stations that are out of use as a result of low traffic on the route.
It is a common sight to see tankers and trailers upturn at will, few commercial vehicles that ply the road carry excess passengers and charge exorbitant fees to make up for delays and longer travel time, wear and tear on their vehicles and the resultant high mortality of their vehicles. The road is lonely and the commonest means of transportation are the motor bikes popularly known as Okada. Before this reporter undertook the journey, she was advised by a colleague that to avoid delays as a result of the bad state of the road, she should board a bike but with a proviso that she must have a spare dress and a scarf because of the dusty nature of the road.
Now, thankfully in 15 months that would be history. Noteworthy, and regrettably, so that several estates that were at various levels of completion were abandoned and several of those real estate companies folded.
Little wonder the flagoff and inauguration were like a carnival as people trooped out and greatful that the administration in Ogun State has given reasons to have a new lease of life. A guide and a resident in Lusada said land speculators had returned. He confided in this reporter that he bought his plot of land for N120,000 several years ago, but was surprised that the same plot is sold now for N600,000 because people saw construction ongoing. He lamented the deprivation they had suffered for years and pleaded with the governor to ensure the completion of the all important road.
Prince Abiodun said the dual event was a symbolic demonstration of his administration’s commitment to the infrastructural development of all parts of the state.
Commending the establishment of the Free Trade Zones (FTZs) in Ogun State by former governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, he said the establishment of FTZs was a veritable platform to help boost development, adding that its benefits are not limited to only reducing the fiscal intervention and leveling borders between nations. But also in his words, increases commercial flow; deferral, reduction or duty exemption; improved compliance; development of commerce and industrialisation; inventory tracking; quality control and indefinite storage.
He stated that his administration is not unaware of the resultant effect of the Free Trade Zones in terms of employment generation; poverty alleviation, job creation, local patronage, capacity building and perhaps, product varieties, which in the long run, put the state on the global map of trade and investment.
He said: “It is noteworthy to mention that this facility has grown beyond a Free Trade Zone to a community in its own class. And as such, a comprehensive development of commerce, processing of goods and manufacturing of varieties of products with the use of local raw materials and inputs have really boosted the economy of our dear State at large.”
He, however, lamented the misfortune of the state which though has a Free Trade Zone with great potential, but could not be accessed because of the dearth of infrastructure.
According to him, the inauguration of this road is another milestone in the administration’s march towards industrialisation and economic development of the state.
He said: “This Lusada-Igbesa Free Trade Zone, on its own, is a practical demonstration of our administration’s wholesome infrastructural development plan towards improving on our Ease of Doing Business. In addition, we have other ancillary approaches to corroborate our commitment. These are in forms of policy formulation and programmes. For example, in accordance with the vision of our administration, creation of an enabling environment for business through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is of utmost importance. These have necessitated implementation of key fiscal and institutional reforms aimed at driving efficiency and promoting transparency and accountability.
“All these are directed towards ensuring that existing businesses continue to thrive and new ones are attracted. Today, we pride ourselves for garnering the third largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Nigeria the records are there to see.”
Furthermore, the governor said the road is a symbolic representation of the positive dividends of his administration’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) agenda. He commended the management of the Ogun Guandong Free Trade Zone, Igbega, as well as the entire team of the China Africa Investment for its commitment to the partnership towards creating what he called corporate and individual prosperity for all our citizens.
He continued: “No doubt, the construction of 10.25kilo metre Lusada-Igbesa road in partnership with the Ogun Guandong Free Trade Zone, Igbesa, is a commendable project. And, we are happy to have the road commissioned today in view of its benefits for improved investments and individual prosperity of all the people in Igbesa, Lusada and adjoining towns in this area. But, as an adjoining road, it is important to note that the full benefits of this newly constructed road can be realised only when the Atan-Lusada-Agbara road is rehabilitated and reconstructed. That import is not lost on us. We have just performed the ceremony of the turn of sod of the Atan-Lusada-Agbara road. All things being equal, the road will be completed soonest and both the Atan-Lusada-Agbara road and the Lusada-Igbesa Free Trade Zone road will complement each other for the full benefits of our people.”
The governor pledged to continue to improve on the several public-private sector partnership programmes to identify funding options for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of major roads in the state.
He canvassed the need for the people at this axis to take ownership of the Lusada-Igbesa road. “You are to ensure good maintenance of the road at all times. I also want to assure all our people that no parts of the state will be neglected in our infrastructural development agenda. In Ogun West, there are various road construction and rehabilitation that are on-going and some are nearing completion. These include, but not limited to Imeko-Afon-Agbede-Iwoye Road; Koro Otun–Itele Road, Ado-Odo/Ota; Empire Ground Road, Ilaro and Ota Owode Idiroko Road.
Others are Igbesa-Ejira Road; Papalanto-Ilaro Yewa Frontier Hotel Road and Sango-Joju Lagos/Abeokuta Expressway.
He called on investors and other players in the private sector to emulate the Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone, by identifying critical areas of investment that will really touch the socio-economic well-being of our people. He stressed that opportunities still abound in the state for investments in power, technology, industrial components, and exploitation of mineral products, among others.
Both events were attended by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo; Chairman, Senate Committee on Works and former governor of Kebbi State, Senator Adamu Aliero; Senator representing Lagos West and Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Olamilekan Adeola; Senator Ayo Akinyelure, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele and Senator Micheal Nnachi, among dignitaries.
While saying the road will be completed in 15 months, the governor said though the road, which is part of the Sokoto-Badagry Expressway, belonged to the Federal Government, his administration decided to embark on the reconstruction of the road to give succour to the residents and industries along the axis.
Abiodun, who reiterated that his government would not develop any part of the state at the expense of another, disclosed that over 172 kilometres of road had been constructed, while 120 kilometres had also been rehabilitated across the length and breadth of Ogun State within two years of his administration.
The governor assured that all roads leading to industrial areas and farm settlements in the state will be prioritised to boost economic growth and development.
He commended the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government for the prompt approval of the request for the transfer of the rehabilitation, reconstruction and maintenance of Atan-Lusada-Agbara road to the state.
He, however, urged the residents along the axis to take charge of the project, disclosing that the youth in the area would be gainfully engaged during the construction of the road.
“No doubt, today’s twin event of turning of sod of Atan-Lusada-Agbara road and commissioning of the Lusada-Igbesa road is part of our administration’s commitment to provide infrastructure in order to continue to open up our border communities along the axis.
“It is, in fact, an assertion of our strategic and deliberate approach to reposition our industrial hubs in our dear state. And, no doubt, Ogun West, especially the Agbara Industrial Estate, which is one of the biggest industrial estates in Nigeria remains key to the development of Ogun State.
“In this direction, the completion of Atan-Lusada-Agbara, expected in the next 15 months, will go a long way towards improving the quality of life and advancement of commerce in Ogun West and other industrial hubs in Ogun state.
“And, I am very optimistic that, at completion, this Atan-Lusada-Agbara Road will not only improve Ease of Doing Business in this area, but bring a wholesome development to the entire Ogun West District,”Abiodun stated.
Senator Aliero assured the state government that the committee would ensure that the reconstruction of Atan-Lusada-Agbara road is included in the 2022 Appropriation Bill.
The Senator noted that the Abiodun-led government had thought it wise to reconstruct the Federal Government road because of concern for the people.
He described the initiative as a symbol of good governance which must be appreciated, urging the governor to ask for reimbursement from the Federal Government upon completion of the project.
“This road is a Federal Government road, because of concern you have for your people you decided to embark on the reconstruction of the road because of its economic value, not only to the state, but to the country. This is what good governance is all about.
“I want to urge you to ask for reimbursement from the Federal Government upon the completion of this project. This project is much more important to Ogun State and by extension Nigeria. I appreciate you for this initiative; it is a right step in the right for the benefit of the country.
“We’ll give the necessary support to ensure that this project is included in the 2022 budget”, Aliero stated.
Adebayo lauded the governor for taking the bold step to rehabilitate the industrial road, assuring that his ministry would continue to collaborate with the state in the areas of trade and investment.
Senator Olamilekan Adeola and former senator who represented Ogun West, Akin Odunsi, expressed their delight at the decision to reconstruct the road after years of abandonment.