By: Adebayo Kufenji.
How Benin-Ore road was transformed
November 26, 2011
Few months ago, I remembered vividly how the Honourable Minister of Works, Arc Mike Onolememen engaged critics over the condition of Benin-Ore-Shagamu road where the failed Ore section gave commuters nightmares.
That was in August 2011 shortly after he took over in Mabushi headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Works, Abuja as Minister of Works.
Invectives and media attacks were hurled on government by the members of the public over the deplorable conditions of the Benin-Ore-Shagamu road. Others recounted in the pages of newspapers how they spent several hours, sometimes spilling over the next day, travelling from Lagos to Benin, a journey which ordinarily should take 4 hours. Some were critical about the increasing rate of robbery attacks, which they blamed on bad roads.
In the midst of these, the Honourable Minister of Works, Arc Onolememen who was just sworn into office kept promising Nigerians that he was going to deal with the problem professionally so as to rest the issue of Ore bad spot which had lingered for many years.
The story of Ore bad spot dates back to the 1970s when the road was being re-constructed into a dual-carriage way. The construction work from Shagamu end had approached Ore at the same time the one from Benin end was also reaching Ore.
That was when preparation for the commissioning by the then Military Head of State was announced at short notice. The contractors, in a bid to complete the project, rushed the completion of the middle point to connect the work from both ends at Ore.
The completion work which was hurriedly done basically to allow the Head of State commission the project has since been giving government problems as the section keep failing. But Onolememen, knowing this precarious situation, ordered a geotechnical investigation/soil analysis of the area in Ore. The result of the analysis indicated that there was a high water bed in the Ore region. This gave him an insight into how the problems will be resolved. He thereafter gave directives for appropriate remedial work to be carried out in line with the new design for that section which took cognizance of the peculiarities of the subsoil condition.
Since the work commenced, experts have heaved a sigh of relief that the failed Ore section which hitherto gave the Federal Ministry of Works problems have been resolved once and for all.
The fact that these repairs were carried out during the rainy season, give credence to the Minister’s deep knowledge of the technical issues that were involved.
Frankly speaking, it is amazing that with the way Nigerians made noise about the nightmares in Ore section of the Benin-Ore-Shagamu road, no one has come out to commend the efforts of the Minister or of the President Jonathan’s administration over the quick fixing of the intractably bad road in Ore. For the first time in many years, commuters traveling to Lagos from Benin or vice versa are happy that the days of a 4-hour trip have returned. This was last experienced in the 1980s and 1990s. For many of us, it is good to commend government when laudable achievements are recorded so as to encourage them to work for better governance. That is also one of the ingredients embedded in the peer review mechanism. The governed must feed the government back on issues about governance.
It was the same Ore failed section that gave opportunities to armed robbers to way-lay innocent citizens while killing many in the course of their attack. The Benin Monarch was even reported to have embarrassed a former Minister of Works over the deplorable condition of the road. Now that a Minister has come out to do what the citizens want, we expect both the Oba of Benin and other Nigerians to publicly acknowledge the feat of repairing the failed sections on the Ore road within a very short time frame in the life of the current administration.
The entire Shagamu-Ore-Benin expressway is becoming something new even when rehabilitation works are still going on there. The good old days of the road has returned for good. My experience recently when I drove to Shagamu from Ofosu is an interesting experience and shows that government is working here.
It is not enough o complain when things are very bad and be quiet when the situation changes for the better.
Kudos to the Works Minister, Arc Mike Onolememen and Kudos to President Goodluck Jonathan on the successful repairs of Ore failed section. There could be no better Christmas/New year gift for the users of this all-important road.
Adebayo Kufenji is a lawyer based in Akure, Ondo State.