Anguish as flood submerges community road, bridges in Ogun - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Friday, November 17, 2023

Anguish as flood submerges community road, bridges in Ogun

…cuts off social, economic activities

…education, health care services affected

…pregnant woman delivers on the bridge

OWODE Ketu, an agrarian community in the Yewa North local government area of Ogun State, has had all its economic and social activities paralyzed, thanks to the perennial flooding that submerged the road that connects Tata-Abotokio-Owode Ketu, and other communities in the council area.

The community has been battling with perennial flooding for over three decades during the rainy season.

During this period, inhabitants of Owode Ketu found it difficult to go out of their community because water would have taken over about two kilometers of the road, including the two bridges on the Yewa River that separated Owode Ketu and other communities along the Tata-Abotokio end of the road.

It was reliably gathered that the road connects about 25 communities.

Unfortunately, as a result of the flood, their economic and social activities are usually put on hold for about four months because the river would have overflown its boundary.

This not only disrupts their daily activities but also hampers access to essential services such as healthcare and education. 

This has, however, hurt the local economy as well, making it difficult for farmers to transport their farm produce to nearby markets, thereby causing huge losses to the farmers.

Flood has affected our children’s academic activities —­ Baale of Owode Ketu

Narrating their experiences, the Baale of Owode Ketu, Chief Sanya Fabuyi said this matter has been recurring for a very long time.

Chief Fabuyi said that despite the challenges, the community pays taxes dutifully, just as he urged the state government to come to their aid. 

He stressed the urgency of the situation, highlighting the immediate need for a bridge that can effectively withstand the surging floodwaters of the river.

Fabuyi said: “The flood has also affected the academic activities in our schools because, whenever the river overflows, children from Abotokio and some other communities that will need to cross it would not be able to come to school. Teachers posted to our schools refused to stay. They have all gone back to other towns they believe are more comfortable for them.

“For over 30 years, we have endured the agony of having no good road. In 1982, through communal efforts, a plank bridge was built by the community and when the then Military Governor of the State, late Gen. Oladipo Diya. He visited Owode Ketu in 1985 and directed that two concrete bridges must be constructed on the river. 

“We can’t go out of the community as we want; we can’t take our farm produce out; it is a big burden to us because our economy has collapsed. Our children, who have to waddle through the water to go to school, are only risking their lives. 

“Our market has gone moribund because of the flooding and bad roads that lead to the community; this has left them isolated and struggling to sustain their livelihoods.” 

A pregnant woman delivers on bridge

In August of this year, a pregnant woman, Tosin Olanrewaju, found herself delivering a baby on a collapsed bridge due to severe flooding. 

It was gathered that Tosin and her husband, who are living in Abotokio, were going to the medical facility at Owode Ketu, where she registered for anti-natal, but due to the flood that has taken over the two bridges on the road, she could not reach the hospital and had to deliver her baby on one of the bridges.

Tosin’s husband, Adekunle, who narrated how his wife had to deliver their baby, said, “I cannot explain the situation. What I know is that my wife delivered on the bridge when we were going to the hospital.

“We could not reach the hospital because the road that leads to Owode Ketu, where the hospital is, had been flooded. My motorcycle could not pass. I was so surprised that such an incident could happen, but I thank God for the safe delivery of my wife.”

We were stranded for months

Also narrating her ordeal during the flood, a trader, Mrs. Kikelomo Fayomi, said that for over three months, the village was flooded, leaving its residents stranded and cut off from essential resources. 

Fayomi said, “Once the rain comes, we are stranded and cannot go anywhere. We cannot go to Ayetoro; we cannot get to Ijoun. We are usually stuck; please help us.”

We pay exorbitantly to cross over our goods, motorcycles —Residents

Another resident, who is a commercial motorcycle operator, said the situation has also affected the livelihoods of those of us who rely on the Yewa River bridge for transportation. 

Whenever the river overruns the bridge, it is extremely challenging to travel from Owode-Ketu to Abotokio.

He said, “I am a bike man; they charged me N5,000 to assist me to carry my motorcycle from the bridge to the other side, but I begged and paid N2,000 to those who helped me.”

Another resident of the community, Oderinde Waliu said the obvious neglect of the town has also impacted negatively on the educational development of the community.

Oderinde said: “In Yewa North Local Government Primary School 1, with a population of about 548 pupils, there are only two buildings. One of the buildings needs urgent repairs, as the pupils will have to be moved to one corner to prevent them from being drenched whenever it rains.

He said the school is also short-staffed, boasting only seven teachers, with three of them employed by the Parents Teacher Association, calling for the state government to, as a matter of urgency, come to the aid of the community.

Mr Obaloyin Taiwo also painted another gloomy picture of the only secondary school in the community, Owode-Ketu Commercial High School, attributing the problem of inadequate teachers in the school to lack of access road to the community.

He said, “We don’t have enough teachers in this school; many times, the state government will post some teachers to our town, but they will find a way to return because of the challenge of this road. The junior secondary school with 210 students has only two teachers, while the senior school has 300 students with eight teachers; one was employed by the PTA. 

“The buildings are also not good. The government even came recently to fix one of the buildings, but while similar projects have been done in some areas, ours has not been done because this river will not allow them to bring anything into the community. Governor Abiodun should please come to our aid; we can’t continue with this suffering. We have suffered enough”.

Urgent govt intervention

The Owode Ketu Council of Chiefs, in a letter to Governor Dapo Abiodun and signed by the Baale, Chief Fabuyi, appealed for government intervention in the construction of another bridge on the river.

The letter reads, “I write on behalf of myself and the entire Owode Ketu Community to humbly bring to Your Excellency’s kind attention the plight of the over 25 communities along the Tata-Abotokio-Owode Ketu-Sunwa-Ayetoro Road who have been cut off from the rest of the world by the overflow of Yewa River, which often submerges the two bridges constructed over it in 1984/85 by the Yewa North Local Government, as the bridges have proved to be grossly inadequate. 

“For upwards of four months now, the socio-economic activities of the communities that the road serves have been paralyzed, in addition to the cases of students who are unable to return to schools for the 2023–2024 academic calendar, children and women who are denied passage for health care services, and the elderly who lack access to necessities, including foods. 

“It may interest Your Excellency to note that the road was approved for construction in 1981 by the administration of the first Civilian Governor of the state, the late Chief Olabisi Onabanjo, to link Ayetoro, the headquarters of the then Isokan Local Government, and Tata, the headquarters of the then Yewa Local Government, the two local governments into which Yewa North Local Government was divided by the administration.  

“Regrettably, before the Olabisi Onabanjo administration could do anything about the road, the Second Republic was terminated by the military in 1983. Since then, representations made to successive administrations on the road have been to no avail. 

“Given the overriding importance of the road to the socio-economic lives of communities along its corridor and to make the road an all-season road, we passionately appeal for Your Excellency’s gracious intervention for the immediate construction of a bridge strong, high, and long enough to restrain the high volume of the river’s floodwaters from submerging it.”

We’re aware of the problem —Ogun govt

Reacting to the situation, the Commissioner for Works, Engr. Ade Adesanya, said that the government is aware of the condition of the community and is already considering all available options to tackle the challenge, particularly the flooding of the road by the Yewa River.

Adesanya said, “Yes, the government is aware of the situation on this road; the river is always overflowing onto the road. We have sent our engineers down; I have the videos.

“The bridge over the road is clogged; the passage that the water should follow is blocked, so we are considering the options of removing this blockage, among others. However, the conditions of things now with the volume of water cannot allow anything to be done, but the government is fully aware of the situation.”

On his part, the Chairman of Yewa North Local Government, Mr. Gabriel Ogunyomi, said that his administration is aware of the situation on this road and is already working out a solution with the state government.

Source: Vanguard 

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