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How people's health, businesses suffer from abandoned project in Nigeria
09. April 2019 at 15:55
The uncompleted road project in idi-Ape- Iwo road area of Ibadan, Oyo state capital, had so much endangered lives of residents, passersby and motorists. Alfred Olufemi chronicles in to the health and business effect of the neglected project on the people.

Mr. Oloyede, a security officer at a bank (name withheld for security reasons) narrated how he went ill and was admitted in the clinic for days after inhaling dust particles from the abandoned Idi Ape road project. "I was having severe catarrh, coughing at the same time. My body system went down, and I could not breathe well. They had to rush me to the hospital," Oloyede Akinyide, who was just recovering from respiratory problems, told IYJ one sunny Tuesday.


“I still have my drugs. I am on drugs. It’s over there,” He reiterated emphatically, pointing apologetically at his medications placed on a table. "When they started the project, we thought that they will finish it on time. I mean with the way they scrapped it and brought bulldozers to work. They sped up the work. Later they stopped and since last year November when they added granite, the dust became too much," He continued


“I was thinking I was agile until two days ago when I landed in the hospital and the doctor told me the sand particles is what I have inhaled- despite using nose covers while at work,” Mr Oloyede lamented. The road construction that caused Mr. Oloyede, road users and some residents health problems is one of the Ibadan Circular Road projects of over N70 billion embarked upon by Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State in 2017.


The state government said that the road would be constructed on a Public-Private-Partnership plan of Build-Operate and Transfer and that it will be completed within 18 months. "We revived the project after considering the importance, not only to our socio- economic survival, but also the benefit of neighbouring states. This made the state government signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of the road through a Public-Private Partnership agreement with ENL Consortium Limited," Mr Ajimobi stated in a Punch report.


Also, a report published by the Highway department of the state ministry of road and transportation, has it that the administration has awarded 79 road projects covering all the zones of the State out of which 66 have been fully completed. Meanwhile, the dualization of the Idi-Ape – Basorun – Akobo – Odogbo Barracks Junction Road (Ibadan) awarded to ENL construction company is one of the 13 uncompleted road circular project abandoned for months.


This reporter gathered that the construction company stopped wetting the dusty road November last year. As a result, the residents of Idi-Ape and Akobo live in dust which is evident on the streets, floors of their rooms, furniture and house paintings. It has become a norm to carry out their daily activities with nose covers to prevent themselves from the health issues that might emanate from nasal intake of the dust particles.


The trade of nose covers became a thriving one. Mrs. Sarah Alabi, a seller told this reporter about the high demand for the product that makes the business lucrative. Despite the preventive measure, some of the residents could not escape irritation, itchy eyes, asthmatic attacks, respiratory problems and other health related challenges.


Asides the health challenges, the road has also recorded more accidents in recent times with several head-on collision of motorcyclists. “I was shocked to the bone marrow when the two motorcyclists collided that day,” 26-year old Folake Lawal said while recounting the havocs the abandoned project has wrecked in recent times. In an interview with this reporter, Folake Lawal, a fashion designer along the road spoke of a case of two motorcyclists who got involved in an accident because of a blurry vision.


"They were badly injured. This is not the first time or the second time. It used to be bad at night " She yelled in frustration. Nonetheless, for three days consecutively, this reporter witnessed the clumsy and dusty streets of Idi-Ape in the night with near cases of head-on collision and auto crash.


 

Businesses not left out.

Apart from the road accidents and the health effects being experienced, this reporter discovered that businesses have also been at the receiving end of the dusty atmosphere. Most who spoke with this reporter complained of low sales and poor customer relations while start-ups owners have been discouraged. Ms. Folake said she cannot display her wares as the dust spoilt some of the clothes sewn for sales. "I was still 'roughing' it till I discovered it (dust) was affecting the clothing materials.”


She painted the wall of her shop just to make more customers and for this place to be more attractive, but the dust factor has been frustrating her efforts. Also, the Sales Team lead at Idi-Ape's branch of the United Bank of Africa, Gbadejo Omoniyi, decried reduction in sales since the menace started last year. “It is over 5 months. You can see the banking hall, there’s no one inside there. The dust is too much. Most of our customers prefer to go to our banking hall in Bodija and not here. We appeal that they speed up the project.”


Speaking on efforts made, Mr. Gbadejo said the bank got yards of pipes and has been wetting its frontage from time to time. “We do it hourly. That only reduced the effect. As you see the dust, despite wetting, it enters the banking hall.” When quizzed if there have been complaints to the government to hasten up the project, he said; “The bank manager attends the customers relationship meeting every week and I am very sure that they’ve tabled that at the meeting too.”


Like UBA, some other banks around visited by this reporter wet the frontages of their buildings. However, other business owners around could not afford the palliative measure. "We no dey wet, Na only banks dey wet. How many waters do you want to pour on this ground that will suppress the dust? Unless rain falls. When they removed the bitumen, it was bearable but when they added the white dust, the thing became too much," Uguu Peter, a tiles merchant, told the reporter in pidgin English.


“All our customers have refused to come compared to before. Some of them will call and say; I will not come today because the dust is much. Sales has reduced in short. We beg make government help us to finish this road,” Mr Uguu added. The Vice-Principal of Best Brain college, Ishola Babatunde beckoned on the government to fast track the completion of the road project because of looming tendencies of losing students to competitors outside the neighborhood.


Responding to questions, Mr. Ishola explained that students' uniforms and school bus unnecessarily get dirty, asthmatic patients amongst the students have had crises to the point of rushing them to the clinic, thus a worrisome situation for both staff and parents.


 

Ajimobi’s numbered days in office.

The remaining thirteen of the circular road projects may not be executed by the Ajimobi-led government if not attended to on time- although he initiated them, IYJ can understand. The tenure of the All Progressive Congress’ Ajimobi expires on May 29 after which his party will hand-over to the governor-elect, Seyi Makinde of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).


Ms Folake said if the Idi- Ape project lingers till the time Mr. Ajimobi leaves office, the suffering of the people may be extended as the new governor, who is from another party different will be busy with the formation a cabinet in the first few months. Another resident, Alabi Michael, told this paper that the failure of Mr. Ajimobi to secure the senatorial seat in the recent elections is one of the reasons for the delay and unnecessary abandonment.


“Since the people voted him and his party out in the last election, he has decided not to complete the remaining project. He wants to punish us,” Aged Michael said. It should be noted that in the last senatorial election of February 29, Mr. Ajimobi lost the bid to represent the Oyo south district at the Red Chambers to his PDP counterpart, Kola Balogun.


Moreover, this paper reported how the APC governorship candidate, Adebayo Adelabu, endorsed by Mr. Ajimobi, also lost to the PDP on March 2. Analysts have ascribed Mr. Adelabu’s loss to the support of the incumbent governor, which worked against his candidacy.


 

Human lives at risk, medical expert says

Bola Olomola, an Osun-based medical doctor, has explained the health hazards of daily inhaling of dust in a chat with this paper. “It can lead to Asthma. It can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and minor cases of cough and catarrh” She highlighted.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a type of obstructive lung disease characterized by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow. According to her, although the dust cannot kill in its form, but its results can. “If the dust is too much it can lead to serious breathing problems.” In the 2016 fact-sheet of the World Health Organisation, the Global Burden of Disease Study reports a prevalence of 251 million cases of COPD globally in 2016 and estimate of 3.17 million deaths caused by the disease in 2015. 


The Osun Based medical expert furthered that the prevention through nose covers is limited as best is for the government to complete the road project before it wreaks more havoc than it has done.


 

Activist blames government

Reacting to the plight of Idi-Ape residents via a telephone interview with this paper, an Ibadan-based activist, Kehinde Akinyemi, heaped the blame on the state government. “The duty of the government is to protect lives of the citizenry, but the reverse is the case here. They are causing distress and damages to people's lives.”


“It is the fault of the government if it awards contract and the contractor did not carry out the job well according to the agreement.” Mr. Akinyemi spoke on the challenges faced by passersby citing his own sad experience while plying the road. “Myself, I pass through the road every day to work. At a particular time, I developed cold and catarrh. It cost him a lot of time and money before I could treat myself at the hospital,” He told our reporter.

 

“In the night, the place is so rowdy and accidents inevitable because the people can't see clearly.” He stressed that “it is the duty of a responsible and responsive government to listen to the cry of the people, but this government seems not to be bothered.” The activist like others then implored the government to urgently look in to the case as the administration will soon end. “I am still using this medium to call on the Oyo State government to attend to the situation because it doesn't affect the residents alone. It affects passersby, motorists and other road users.”



Contractor keeps mum, Government lies.

Efforts to get the reaction of the company awarded the project, ENL consortium, proved abortive. The phone numbers on the company’s website are not active thus our reporter could not reach the contractor via telephone. Also, series of messages sent via the company’s email address and contact form filled by our reporter were not responded till the time of filing this report.


Meanwhile, the state commissioner for information, Toye Arulogun, claimed that the contractors are back to work even when this reporter maintained that there was no sign of such on the site. When responding to the question of health challenges and recurring cases of accidents, Mr. Toye said; “Even in America when they fix roads there will be dust. Don't let us mind what the people are saying. They don't know what they are saying. Is it possible for the road to be constructed without being dusty?” He asked


When probed further, the commissioner promised that an adequate response will be given through the Permanent secretary of the ministry of works and Transports. However, after repeated calls and reminder messages sent, Mr. Toye, on Thursday said he had escalated the issue to the relevant Ministry Development Agencies and that the government will look in to it.


Cite This Article As: Alfred Olufemi. "How people's health, businesses suffer from abandoned project in Nigeria." International Youth Journal, 09. April 2019.

Link To Article: https://youth-journal.org/how-peoples-health-businesses-suffer-from-abandoned-projec





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