Residents of Ondo State have accused the present government in the state of showing penchant for white elephant projects.
According to the residents, who spoke exclusively with DAILY POSTS in different locations, Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s government in the state has been that of “flag-off of projects,” particularly roads.
The governor in February this year flagged off the dualisation of the Hospital/Ijoka road in Akure, the state capital, as well as the Ore intersection flyover in Odigbo local government area of the state, in commemoration of the first year anniversary of the governor in office, with the assurance to the people of timely completion of the road projects.
However, residents and property owners on the axis of the designated projects expressed their disappointment that contractors were yet to move to site despite government’s assurance.
A member of staff of the state’s Local Government Service Commission who resides in the Oluwatuyi area of Akure, the state capital told our correspondent that Akeredolu’s government believes more in the flag off of projects than executing them.
The local government worker who preferred anonymity stated that anytime a project was to be embarked upon, it was more of a carnival-like procession as party members are mobilised from across the 18 council areas of the state to Akure, with all of them decking uniformed attires.
“What is currently happening in this state is so quite unfortunate. When he (Gov. Akeredolu) came on board, most of us who supported him had thought he would be better. But with the situation of things at present, we can only pray to God.
“Tell me the kind of explanation to give on the proposed dualisation of Hospital-Ijoka road dualization project which was flagged-off over six months ago with pomp and pageantry.
“Do you know that during the flag-off, the whole of Akure was shut down. I could recollect vividly how taxi operators bitterly complained about the shut down. It was as if they commissioned an already executed project.
“Even that day, immediately after the ceremony which was held at the A – Division axis of the road, all the earth equipment displayed vanished after it has been said that work will commence in earnest on the road; six months after, nothing is happening. It is case of another white elephant project.”
Also, for Mrs Taye Akintunjoye, a former shop owner along high Court section of the road who expressed displeasure on the attitude of government towards the road project, if she had known that the project would be delayed, she would not have quit her shop.
“I used to make great sales when I was selling at the former shop. But when we heard that they (government) wanted to dualise the road, we had to move to this place, because most of us rented the shops and we don’t want a situation we are going to pay to landlords and weeks after, we will be told to move.
“Now, look at what has happened, since February when they flagged-off the project, nothing whatsoever is happening on the road.
“Some of us were even sceptical about the entire process, because prior to the highly ceremonious flag off, the valuation ought to have been done as well as the markings. But nothing of such happened.”
In Ore, Odigbo local government area of the state, the flyover at Ore intersection was also flagged off in February this year with residents of the area showing concerns if the project would ever be embarked upon.
A member of the driver’s union who simply gave his name as Akinkunmi maintained that when the governor came with his team to flag off the flyover, everyone’s excitement was well pronounced as no-one could hide the heartfelt joy because the flyover has been long over due.
He said the excitement had long worn out as meaningful work was not visible on the road, which is highly prone to ghastly motor accidents almost on weekly basis.
“Here in Ore, our main challenge is this portion of the road. A week can hardly go by without an accident occurring, hence the reason for our excitement in February when Aketi came to flag off the flyover.
“But it has turned out to be one of the political gimmicks we have been used to before now. When they knew they are not ready for such a project, why roll out the drums.
“I am sure you must have since what Amosu (Ogun State Governor) did on the Sagamu expressway with such a magnificent flyover. So, what is the excuse here.”
Meanwhile, one of the top officials of the Gov. Akeredolu’s government who preferred anonymity informed DAILY POST that the actual plan was that by August, work will commence on the Hospital-Ijoka road but that the valuation of the affected buildings was still on-going, hence reason for the delay.
The source also disclosed that the flyover project was still shaky as the present finances of the state government cannot finance such a project, coupled with the directive of the federal government that no state would be reimbursed anytime soon if they embark on any federal road project.
“We are hopeful that as soon the valuation processes are done, the people might begin to see some action on the road. Although we did not envisage that it will take this long but hopefully we will get there.
“As regards the flyover at Ore, the plan was that we will finance the project and later claim the expenses from the Federal Ministry of Works, but we got the signal that reimbursement might be a herculean task. So, we had to put that on hold. But, we are optimistic that when the state has the capability as regards finance, then we are good to go.
“Just the way we met brick wall with the Ore flyover, we are faced with the same situation with the proposed dualisation of the Akure-Ikere road, which is in a terrible state.
“But, I think the governor should be commended, because in the past 18 months, he has been able to deliver 45-kilometre road projects in the state,” he added.