The urban renewal efforts of Governor Kayode Fayemi-led administration in Ekiti State have peaked faster than many thought possible just two years ago. Sulaiman Salaw-udeen examines the effects on the residents
The view across Ado-Ekiti, capital of Ekiti state and other towns in the state, far beyond being genial, is lately even inviting. Structures belonging to banks and other corporate outfits which verge major roads and streets now impress a stamp of newness and health on a capital which might finally have caught up with modernity earlier than imaginable only two years previously.
Passing through the roads and streets day or night either walking or by other means is no longer stressful, courtesy of the much advanced road rehabilitation and urban renewal programmes of the administration of Dr. Kayode Fayemi which turned three recently.
Either as one moves into the capital from the entry points of Iyin-Ekiti, Iworoko-Ekiti, Ijan-Ekiti/Federal Poly axis, Ikere-Ekiti and Ilawe-Ekiti, or out of the capital, the traveller is greeted by and enjoys dark, shiny, smooth tar and much widened and often dualised lanes all of which have gained additional beauty through concrete drainage system for the channeling of waste water and flood during rains.
Even within the township, main roads including Police Headquartres-Basiri-Fajuyi road, Fajuyi-Adebayo road, Fajuyi-Okesa-Okeyinmi-Old Garrage road, Bank road, NTA road, Old Garrage-Ijigbo-Ajilosun road are now also well-paved, double-carriage and widened.
So far, according to findings, 736,715km of a total of 1,334 kilometres of both federal and state roads have been completed while an additional 500 kilometres are ongoing across every nooks and crannies of the 16 local government areas of the state since the inception of the administration.
Further, the streets are illuminated with bright lights as apparent in the nights when driving without the headlights may not pose much danger; functional traffic lights supported by the ubiquitous and ever-vigilant State Traffic Control Officers decree a regime of sanity in vehicular operations in daytime. The (road) medians which house the street light poles are lately going green with cultivated grasses.
As mobility devices glide with ease through the streets and highways, traffic hold-ups have also gone in areas such as Old Garrage/Post Office/Oja’ba, Okeyinmi and Ojumoshe junctions and Fajuyi/Okesa roundabouts through access roads rehabilitated/created about the town. The urban renewal/beautification exercise of the Fajuyi area itself has lent supporting allure to the corporate appearance of the whole environment.
Also, heaps of fresh and decomposing refuse which used to take strategic positions within the metropolis have equally gone, thanks to the vibrant Ekiti Waste Management Agency which today does not just clear the refuse but has been converting same into forms usable for other attainments.
With street lights on major roads, night time commercial activities are now familiar development with consequent improvement on nightlife specifically around Fajuyi-Adebayo areas while incidences of attacks of hoodlums who often applied the darkness about the town to unleash their art have reportedly also waned.
Shops and kiosks where locals access staples and other items of need which remain a common sight still are now well recessed from the road, allowing more freedom to other official operations which might occasionally become necessary, including the much advanced laying of cyber-optic cables.
Presence of government in one regard or another is seen all over the town more often nowadays with sights of refuse/waste collection trucks and their officials in action; the erection or repair of this or that street light or faulty road portion. The likelihood of such encounters has become so much as to be trite.
Commenting on this development, the Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Mr. Tayo Ekundayo said: “What used to be the order was open and blunt official negligence and abdication of duties. On all indicators of the existence of governance in the state, you would find the repositories of peoples’ questionable mandate than ever in bed and sleeping.”
According to Ekundayo, unease and sleeplessness befall such a head that must wear the crown of governance. “As a responsible administration that we have today in the state, there is no rest time. And that is why you have the smoothness and progress on all fronts in the state.
“The roads that Fayemi has built have a minimum survival period of nothing less than ten years but should anything go wrong with any of it anywhere and anytime, you would see our officials there for the amends. This is how we understand administration”, Ekundayo said.
Clarifying further, the commissioner said “the current administration of Governor Kayode Fayemi runs an 8 Point Development Agenda. None among all the 8 can be said to suffer. Everything is success and more success and more success. If we have been resting, half what we have achieved would not have been possible.
“Recall that the governor just concluded the celebration of his third year in office. Though celebrations we call it, it was actually an opportunity to do more work. Several projects were commissioned while another phase of the social security scheme was flagged off with the addition of 5,000 qualified elderly individuals into the bulk of twenty thousand.
“New projects were launched during the programmes across agriculture, health, empowerment and others. The third anniversary celebrations have been concluded but the governor, as we are talking has started and completed a tour of the entire 132 communities in the state as part of Village Square/Town Hall meetings to access community people’s contribution towards the 2014 budget. The result of this will soon come for people to see in the structuring of the 2014 budget.
“You really cannot avail much if you are the holidaying type as a leader. I dare say unease lies the head that wears a crown and the reward for good work is more work for the people”, the Commissioner said.
How it used to be
But someone who has not been in the state for at least one and half years might not be aware of what the residents, especially vehicle owners and commercial cab operators had gone through.
Itinerant businessmen and other categories of visitors coming into the capital might then have wondered “where the capital really was in the capital, Ado-Ekiti” as they battled a view which awed sensibilities in its unbecoming grandeur and a movement that must tax patience.
Difficulties of both vehicular and pedestrian operations had generally been sanctioned by potholes and craters which had overtaken significant sections of the often too tiny stretches of the major and access roads, worsened by shops, kiosks, business complexes and even residential buildings built up to the last margins of the roads. These particularly made driving a most unattractive and troubling burden.
The commercial vehicle operators who, in trying to outsmart other road users while rushing possibly to meet ‘delivery targets,’ only worsened situations. Heaps of debris of collapsed structures and assorted construction machines which laid here and there at the peak of the urban beautification exercise only choked up the already tiny spaces the worse.
Residents, especially in the more expansive settings of Ado and Ikere Ekiti, constrained by lack of waste disposal points had also then chosen city centres as their dump sites. Mounted at major junctions were mountainous heaps of often decayed garbage of assorted wastes from houses and community markets which, lying unattended days, would issue offensive smells and foul breath.
Further, arising from the darkness which usually enveloped the town soon as night fell owing to lack of state-aided illumination/lighting, sights of vehicles, including commercial taxis, plying the roads were scanty, while roadside traders and hawkers were a rarity, leaving the needy at such periods at the mercy of luck!
Owing to largely absent and occasionally blocked drains, floods must come onto the roads during rains again, dragging along and depositing at critical sections all manner of debris. The consequence had often been an unsightly view of a capital reeling under multiple failures of a best forgotten past.
Moving from the capital then into the hinterland, especially towards Iworoko-Ifaki, Ajilosun-Ikere and Fedpoly-Ijan-Iluomoba, the road user must meet worse challenges. The hell holes which had then worsened into craters and gullies over time would keep dragging the unfortunate machine and its occupants from one end of the road to another in an infernal ding-dong, forcing them to commit hours into a journey of minutes!
For those lucky to avoid head-on collisions arising from often compelled needs to dodge undesirable sections of the roads, the machines must sure be returned to the artisan for urgent salvage.
Abandoned along the roads at the time were scores of vehicles the deaths of which had been aided by such harrowing tales. Today, all inter-township roads are free and unclogged and sights of abandoned/disused vehicles along the highways are a rarity.
But the infrastructural reversals in Ekiti have meant more than these. They have also involved the entire overhauling of the secondary schools through Operation Renovate all (182) Secondary Schools (ORASE) and Operation Renovation all (120) General Hospitals (ORAHE) across the 16 local government areas of the state.
Generally, since inception in October 2010, the current administration has commissioned well over a thousand projects which include several rural and urban electrification projects and infrastructural monuments. Among the latter is a giant edifice named ‘The Civic Centre’ which is one of what the administration has described as ‘legacy projects’.
Also at the far right and atop a noticeable Ayoba Hill about Okesa junction in Ado-Ekiti is the new ‘Governor’s Lodge Complex’, now standing sturdy on the Hill. The State Pavilion located at the far end of the Bank Road is expected to serve as a good icing on the cake of the very many infrastructural accomplishments of the administration. Both are in Ado-Ekiti and at very advanced completion stages.
Others on the ‘legacy projects’ list, aside some of the new roads within the metropolis, according to the findings, are The New Governor’s Office, Ire Burnt Bricks Factory in Ire-Ekiti, completed and now servicing the interested public; Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort in Ikogosi-Ekiti, equally completed and already attracting commendation and patronage from within and outside the state.
Infrastructural facilities like electricity distribution supports for communities, upgrading of water provision facilities in Ado-Ekiti and other towns across the state and the laying of cyber-optic cables in Ado-Ekiti, have all been receiving generous and consistent attention as well from the administration.
Specifically, the laying of the cyber cables was the culmination of several previous efforts at enhancing the information and communication awareness of residents of the state, especially, secondary school students and their teachers, with the distribution of nearly 35,000 net-book, solar-powered laptop computers. Most of the students who are now ICT aware and even the teachers were interacting with the computer for the first time in their whole lives!
The combined effect of all the efforts as listed here has transformed not only the entire view of the state, especially the capital, but even the ease of transacting businesses, from governance to education, the civil and public service, banking, relaxation/tourism and other areas of life.
Presenting a bill in respect of next year’s appropriation, the governor said in terms of infrastructural development in the state: “our goal is to establish optimum communities that will improve the lives of citizens and attract investment. Our target is to ensure that every part of the state is accessible by motorable roads by the end of our first term in October 2014.”
Although, relatively, the achievement in the area of water supply and distribution in the state has been lower compared with other areas, the state government has committed a sizeable chunk of its total earnings into reversing the sector.
Governor Fayemi admitted this during the bill presentation saying, “In concrete terms, we have invested over N1.2 billion in water production in the last three years with over 157.3 kilometres of water pipe laid in 2011 alone. We are also making water dams in the state functional so as to increase water supply and coverage by 80 per cent while using the PPP to increase generation and distribution of electricity.
“Three water schemes were completed and commissioned in Efon-Alaaye, Okemesi and Ido-Ile while two other schemes in Ipole-Iloro and Erinjiyan-Ekiti are nearing completion. About 4.0 billion cubic metres of water has been produced and distributed to the various communities in the state in the last two years”, Governor Fayemi said.
According to other sources, efforts have been mounted to institute fundamental changes through a multi-sectoral approach which by the middle of next year will take concrete shapes especially in the capital of Ado, Ikere and Ikole.
The challenge of urbanisation
The infrastructural developments particularly in Ado-Ekiti have introduced challenges though. Perhaps the most visible lately is the sheer increase in population as often attested in the number of commercial motorcycle operators whose penchant for over-speeding and sundry road misdemeanours have been attracting attention.
Crude estimates now put the number of commercial motorcycles operating in Ado-Ekiti alone at nearly a hundred thousand which people argue is more than double the number of commercial taxis plying inter and intra-township roads.
The concern however is not the figure which most consider intimidating and potentially dangerous but the fact that the riders defy road regulations with gleeful abandon, a development which has made them more susceptible to accidents. Even while over-speeding, most would not wear crash helmets, which puts them at double jeopardy in accident situations.
According to the State Sector Commander, Federal Roads Safety Corps, Engr. Ringdom Kumven, “efforts have lately been mounted through a Thursday radio programme owing to observed recalcitrance of the operators of commercial motorcycles.”
“You will notice that most of those who ride the motorcycles are not trained and neither are they mature enough to pick up that trade. Pressed of necessity, the young boys just reach for the motorcycles as a last resort, driving with all manner of condemnable recklessness”, Kumven said.
The programme which, according to him, was in consequence of frequent motorcycle accidents some of which claim lives was mounted to offer channels of discussions on how to maintain safety on major roads.
The effect of urbanisation on properties have however been unprecedented and mind-blowing. While the cost of obtaining shops has more than doubled in the last two years, that of renting a modest residential apartment has become more unfriendly. While it has become harder to secure houses in urban Ado, the needy are having to seek solution in adjoining suburban settlements of Ikere and Ilawe.
A properties dealer who craved anonymity noted: “The cost either of buying a landed property or renting an apartment or shop can never go down again. Generally and all times, cost of properties don’t go down. There may be occasional lags, but prices soon return to normal.
“What I can advise people to do is to get their own portion of land and build their houses. It is the solution to the ever rising costs of obtaining through rent a residential accommodation. Government is also set to assist the residents through the recently commenced 5,000 housing units project. If they can construct that number of units, it will assist quite a number of residents, especially the civil servants.
This articles was first published in The Nation
Last modified: December 18, 2013