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Perennial ordeal of Akute residents

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Denro in Ogun

Residents of Denro, Akute area of Ogun State suffer untold hardship due to flooding and deplorable state of the only access road to their town EMEKA EJERE reports

If there are any parts of Ogun State where residents pray for the rainy season, Denro town in Akute area of the state certainly cannot be one. The people are not allergic to rains but experience has shown that the cost of the season every year for them far outweighs the benefit if any.

For instance, while every other economic activity in the area presently is in a state of near paralysis, the only people smiling to the bank are some unemployed youths who have now found job in crossing people over deep water that now divides the town into two.

Days of torrential rains from September 6 to 10, compounded the problem of deplorable road condition the people have lived with for many years as virtually meaningful life and economic activities came a screeching halt.

With the Odo axis of the only access road to the community completely waterlogged, only high vehicles now dare the deep water. The development has led to many motorists (commercial and private) packing their vehicles for fear of being trapped in the dirty and stinking water. The commercial motor cyclists are not left out in the precautionary fears.

The unfortunate result is a situation of excess demand for transport services. In other words, too many passengers now struggle over too few vehicles and motor bikes, and the result is higher fares.

“Life is no longer sweet. Oh’ God, when will this suffering end”, asked a middle-aged woman who gave her name as Abike after she stood at the place for hours waiting for a vehicle.

Abike further lamented: “I have been standing here for hours, no vehicle. And I cannot imagine myself resting on the shoulders or backs of these boys who say they are crossing people. It is an abomination.”

However, a beautiful lady in her 20s, who gave her name as Glory, after being carried over the water by one of the boys, had a different view. “Thank God for these boys. If not for them how could I have crossed over this ocean?” she wondered. “The N100 they collect is not even much,” Glory further noted.

Some of the boys rendering the carry-over services admitted that the development has created an avenue for them to make some money.

“Walai, this thing e goo;. I don get like N2,000,” one of the boys who simply gave his name as Musa, said obviously happy.

It was at about 11 a.m. What it means is that by the end of the day, Musa would have made at least N5,000 from crossing people going and coming back from work and business. The implication is that people now have to spend more time and money going and coming back from their daily activities.

For instance, a movement from Denro/Isashi/Pipeline to Berger which used to take about 30 minutes now takes about 2 hours (time for crossing the water inclusive). The fare which used to fluctuate between N100 and N150 depending on the hour of the day, now goes for N300 (including fee of crossing the water).

In the case of motor bike, the same movement which used to cost between N150 and N200 for each of the two passengers it carries, now goes for between N300 and N400.

However, some of the commercial bus drivers, who spoke to BusinessHallmark, explained that the hike in fare has not translated to higher income for transporters. According to them, the proceeds still go back to the repair of vehicles which now break down more often due to bad roads.

“Na mechanic dey chop the money. See as my motor (Vehicle) don spoil finish. Once I finish now, na mechanic I dey go, nothing go remain for my pocket,” according to a Danfo (commercial bus) driver, who wished to be known as Dele.

He disabused the minds of those who think commercial motorists are making a fortune out of the precarious situation. His views were corroborated by his colleagues. Perhaps, the sector topping the losers chart in the area is real estate. Residents who can no longer bear the plight are packing out of the area in droves.

Ordinarily, proximity to the big city of Lagos would have been an advantage to the real estate owners of the area. But that cannot be said of Denro/Isashi, no thanks to sorry state of the roads.

For instance, a three-bedroom apartment in the area goes for between N250, 000 and N300, 000. A two-bedroom apartment goes for between N200, 000 and N250,000, while a mini-flat goes for between N150,000 and N200,000.

Despite the moderate rent, many apartments are still not occupied in the area. The story is not any different for shops and office spaces. Instead more businesses are closing shops and relocating due to low patronage.

A landlord, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, lamented: “I regret building my house here. I wish I could relocate my house. Imagine, I am begging people to come and rent a house I laboured so much to build for peanut, yet they are not forthcoming.”

He was obviously speaking the mind of so many other property owners in the area.

Little wonder many of the residents have vowed never to come out again and cast their vote for anybody since it is obvious that they are not carried along in the scheme of things.

Laide Tikiru Kolawale, vice chairman of Denro/Isashi Community Development Council, who spoke in an emotion-laden voice, said: “We are going through untold hardship here. We’re written letters to government; we’ve even invited them to come and see things for themselves. Yet, nothing has happened. You people should please help us and talk to them. We are helpless.”

When our correspondent visited the Area Office of Ifo Local Council Development Area, LCDA, Ronke Okunuga, secretary to Ifo LCDA, noted that the LCDA was in the know of the situation at Denro/Isashi, assuring that something would be done urgently to ameliorate the suffering of the people.

Okunuga, who spoke on behalf of Bode Fakunle, the LCDA chairman who was said to have travelled to Abeokuta on an official assignment, said the Ifo chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was also actively involved in the effort to provide succor to the people.

On whether or not the use of the bridge was going to be free, Okunuga had maintained that “since the government was going to finance it, using it was going to be free.”

A senior official, who wished anonymity, described the flooding at Denro/Isashi as a normal occurrence whenever the Osun dam is opened, pointing out that what should rather be of concern was the deplorable condition of the road.

He, however, expressed optimism that the Denro-Akute Road is one of the projects the new governor would surely execute as, according to him, “the road is already on the agenda.”

“What we should be talking about is how to fix the road that is terribly bad. I’m sure the new governor will do the road because it is already on the agenda. Governor Amusun really wanted to do the road but could not due to paucity of funds.”