Capital city in renewal
Heaps of sand and laterite dot the roads. Caterpillars are excavating sand. Trucks are loading it. Construction workers are busy trying to meet the deadline. Everywhere you turn, one major construction or the other is being undertaken.
The heavy work comes with pain. Traffic is heavy. And more man-hours are wasted on the road than before.
Welcome to Ado-Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti State, where everything seems upside down now so that it can truly live up to the billing as a befitting state capital.
Someone who has not been to the town in a while is bound to be taken aback. From the most popular road in the capital, Ajilosun Road, to Ojumose- Fajuyi-Basiri Road, Ijigbo-Ilawe Road, Old Garage-Okeyinmi- Ojumose Road, Old Garage-Ikere Road and Fajuyi-Teaching Hospital Road, men are literally working themselves out to renew Ado and make the roads form an impeccable network.
Sixteen link roads, such as Mobil-Irona Road, Ben Folarin–Isato- Oke Ori Omi Road, Old Governor’s Office –Okesa Road, Ola Oluwa-Omisanjana Road, Housing Corporation Road, Oke Ila- Stadium Road, Okeyinmi- St. Andrews-Oke Ila Road, Okesa- Staduim- Oremeji Road and Oke Ori Omi- Aremu Road, are experiencing total makeover.
Not left out of the race to make the landscapes of Ado posh are Adebayo-Olora-Hosuing Road, Ile Abiye-GRA Road, Egbewa–NTA Road, Adekaitan–GRA, Oke Ila internal roads, Oke Ila–Idolofin Road and Mugbagba- St. Pauls–Odo Ado Road.
In Ado, it is not all about roads. Lush green vegetation is finding space. Interlocking stones are marking walkways apart. Medians are wearing glowing shades. Drainage channels are being opened. The dredging of River Ofin has commenced to prevent flooding, which may result in the loss of lives and property of citizens.
Really, years of urban planning errors are being corrected. But, like the saying that there is no creation without destruction, many a structure has given way for decades of haphazard development to be rectified. More are to follow. The first-ever petrol station in the town has become history for Ado to be renewed. Structures that made the state capital to be smeared with buildings without lay-out, plans or certificates of occupancy are giving way. But, efforts have been made to ensure sacred places and local monuments in the ancient city are preserved.
Demolition with human face
Unlike the usual practice, the Dr. Kayode Fayemi administration has given new meaning to government’s demolition of structures for developmental purposes. The administration has ensured that no single structure has been pulled down without the owner first receiving compensation.
The Chairman, Ekiti State Urban Renewal Agency, Mr. Babatunde Fakoyede, said the decision to pay compensation before demolition is to ensure proper valuation of property. “Or, how do you value a property after demolishing it?” asked Fakoyede.
He added that the administration, even after paying the compensation, still gives enough time for evacuation.
Fayemi has presented cheques of N190, 860, 923 as compensation to people whose structures hinder the dualisation of New Garage-Ojumose-Okeyinmi-Baptist Church Road and Atikankan-Igbehin Road. Another N83,679,627 has also been spent paying compensation to “ameliorate the pains of our people arising from these projects”.
Significantly too, even owners of structures without certificates of occupancy are not being denied compensation.
The governor explains his approach to urban renewal: “If anyone had described this government as do-nothing, I guess they do not understand the processes involved in ensuring that you take the people along with you even if you have a vision and a plan. That is what we have consistently demonstrated; we wanted to ensure that those affected by the changes that are going to occur are not treated shabbily; we wanted them to be paid adequate compensation for the properties that are bound to be removed for the dualisation process and do it in accordance to due process.
”That is what we have done; we have allowed people to complain about issues relating to their compensation. We have allowed others to raise issues concerning the legality or otherwise of what we are doing but I am happy that this has happened. You can see that people are overjoyed by at least clearly that there is a direction and the plan that we put in place clearly stated what we will do in 2012.”
Demolition without discrimination
One striking discovery about the demolition exercise is that the administration has tried not to be partial. As the Bafon of Ado Ekiti, Chief Olu Ogunremi is a man of no mean influence. He has the ears of the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adejugbe. For someone with such a clout, not many expect that his property would be one of those to give way for the renewal of the capital of Ekiti State.
In an interesting twist, Ogunremi and many other influential sons and daughters of the ancient city have willingly allowed their property to go down for Ado-Ekiti to rank among the best capital cities in the country. The respected Ekiti chief and others have also commended Fayemi for paying their compensation before their buildings were demolished. They believe this underscores the fact that the governor has the welfare of the people at heart.
Fayemi believes Oba Adejugbe has been instrumental in ensuring that the people understand what the government is doing and complying with the quit notice given them. So thrilled is Oba Adejugbe that he is planning a thank-you visit to the governor.
A matter of cash
But such massive work as being undertaken comes at a huge cost. Aside the N275 million spent on paying compensation, the construction and rehabilitation that have turned Ado into a huge construction site is money-guzzling.
The 16 township roads in the capital city alone are to gulp N1,790,578,794. Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation Funminiyi Afuye said the administration decided to spend this much to make Ado Ekiti a befitting state capital.
The cost of the dualisation of Old Garage-Ojumose Road, dualisation of Atikankan- Post Office- First Baptist Church Road, re-asphalting of Fajuyi-Police Headquarters Road, Fajuyi- Teaching Hospital Road and Old Garage- Ajilosun Road is about N5billion.
The governor believes that at the completion of the road projects , the urban renewal and beautification project, investors would be attracted.
In the beginning
It became a state capital in 1996. At that time, there were only two major roads there, with Ajilosun Road being the more popular. Now, things have really changed and will continue to change, said Afuye.
Fayemi has promised that his administration would leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the vision of making all major roads in Ekiti State motorable by 2014. He said when this vision is actualised, Ekiti would have the best road networks in the Southwest. By then too, Deputy Governor Funmi Olayinka believes the pains that are being experienced as a result of ongoing construction work would soon give way to pleasure and sublime standard of living that are unprecedented in the state.
The Ministry of Physical, Urban and Regional Planning said it has now become a sin not to comply with Urban Planning regulations.
All building plans of newly developed property henceforth must carry the seal and signature of a professionally qualified architect in order to qualify it for government’s approval.
Property developers are to observe the minimum setback as prescribed in the Urban and Regional Planning Law of the State, which is 20ft (6m) from the edge of the road for developed areas, 30m for state roads and 50m for federal roads.
All property developers are to strictly observe all building codes and regulations. Owners of properties whose construction, are not in compliance with the Urban Renewal Law are to regularise them.
This article was first published in The Nation on 10 October 2012
Last modified: October 10, 2012