BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO
Residents of Osun State are currently casting aspersion on the state government on the failure of the contractors handling the construction of the Olaiya Flyover Bridge, Osogbo, to complete the project in record time as assured, describing it as a breach of trust by the administration.
The delay in the delivery of the project, according to a cross section of people who spoke with The Point, continued to bring pain and anguish that could be better imagined to travellers as well residents of Osogbo, the state capital.
Describing the recurrent uncontrollable traffic gridlock being experienced by road users at the centre of the city as an unabating nightmare that affected their lives, the inhabitants of the city called for an urgent solution by the state government.
Recall that the Governor Adegboyega Oyetola’s administration had promised to deliver the project within the period of nine months counting, from February 18.
The project, which should have been delivered on Sunday, November 14, has yet to be completed. The engineers and other workers at the site were still at work as the project was assessed to have reached about 65percent to completion when last visited by our correspondent.
Recounting the inconvenience that the blockage of the major road leading into the town had brought since the commencement of the project, some residents of Osogbo bemoaned the hardship, saying that an urgent measure must be taken to address it.
A resident of Osogbo, Olayiwola Babarinde, told The Point that Osogbo had continued to record heavy traffic congestion on a daily basis owing to the flyover project, adding that the failure by the state government to rehabilitate the alternative routes further worsened the plights of the people.
According to Babarinde, a commercial driver, the government ought to make the alternative routes motorable either by patching the potholes or by tarring them.
He expressed concern that the traffic situation would be more now as the yuletide season approached.
“Our government doesn’t care about the troubles that the blockage of Olaiya route, which is a major road in Osogbo, has been causing us. Before the contractor started work on the flyover, the governor ought to have tarred the alternative routes but this was not done. Most of the roads are in bad shape and this has been contributing to the heavy traffic snarl being recorded in Osogbo on a daily basis.
“Now, the state government can’t fulfill its promise that the construction work on the project would finish on schedule. I am afraid that the construction work on the flyover may not be completed this year. This would mean more hardship for the people because Christmas is already close,” Babarinde said.
For Isiaka Farinde, a trader at Olaiya, the construction of the flyover had adverse effects on businesses in the area. He said that the delay in the completion of the bridge would further tell on the traders who continued to bear the brunt.
“We have been experiencing low patronage since the construction of the flyover began and we are praying that Governor Oyetola fulfills his promise. We have to take into consideration our own survival. Sales had been badly affected because of the failure to complete the flyover in record time,” Farinde said.
A pressure group called Transparency and Accountability Group also registered its displeasure on the delay being experienced in the construction of the flyover, alleging that the development was in violation of the state’s procurement law.
The group’s spokesperson, Ayo Ologun, said, “The project, a 625 metre bridge at the cost of N3,008,179,829 (three billion, eight million, one hundred and seventy nine thousand, eight hundred and twenty nine naira) amounting to N2.700,000 (two billion, seven hundred million) net of all taxes was awarded to Messrs Peculiar Ultimate Concerns Limited at four span of 15 metres each with two underpass bays for U – turning to Fakunle Justrite and MDS/post office.
“While we acknowledge the government’s capacity to do and undo, with functionaries always thinking they are above the law, we state unequivocally that we will not relent in our efforts to make the Osun State Government answer to the allegations of violation of the state’s procurement law on the project.
“TAG also must put on record the difficulty the project has brought upon the people of the state with attending casualties while the project lasts.
“We demand a speedy completion of the project bearing in mind that the yuletide (period) is almost here when the volume of traffic in the state capital is expected to rise and hence the road passing through Olaiya becomes most needed.”
In its reaction, the state government explained that the need for improved aesthetics, expansion of scope of work and the torrential rainfall witnessed in Osogbo coupled with the desire not to compromise standards were responsible for the delay in the completion of the Olaiya flyover as scheduled.
The government, however, assured the public that with the current pace of work, the project would be delivered before the end of the year.
The Commissioner for Works and Transportation, Remi Omowaiye, apologised to the residents and the road users urging them to show better understanding.
He said, “Because of the depth of the retaining wall, the consultant insisted that it has to be in layers. On each of the layers, we have to carry out a test before we proceed.
“At the beginning too, we lost some weeks because the consultant insisted that the samples of the reinforcement and the rock under it must be taken to three different laboratories in different states to satisfy all due diligence before we proceeded.
“All these were responsible for the delay in opening up the place in November as earlier promised. We are deeply sorry about that. However, let me assure us that with the level of work so far done, before the end of December, the Olaiya Flyover will be up and running. We thank the people for their understanding and cooperation.”