CAC No. 160967

Huge losses as Ogun community river overflows banks, destroys roads

As a result of the bad state of roads and the flooding caused by the Yewa River, life is unbearable for the Owode-Ketu community in the Yewa North Local Government of Ogun State, BANKOLE TAIWO writes

Owode-Ketu, a border community in the Yewa North Local Government of Ogun State is not supposed to be more than an average 90 minutes journey at most from Abeokuta, the state capital, but the tortuous terrible state of the road from Ita-Oshin through Joga-Orile-Imashayi to Eggua, Igan Alade, Tata-Abotokio may force you to spend an extra one or one and half hours depending on how good you are able to deftly manoeuvre the potholes riddled roads.

And from Abotokio, rather than driving towards Ijoun, another border community that is less than a 10-minute drive away, you will turn to your right to access Owode-Ketu housing about 20,000 residents.

But from here, whatever sad tales of bumpy rides you have from the state capital will pale into insignificance. This is because you are now confronted with the nightmare of travelling on this 20km Owode-Ketu-Ayetoro earthen road that has never seen a drop of asphalt since the time of creation.

The implication of this is that as soon as the rainy season saunters in, the road becomes muddy with accompanying deep holes covered with water making it difficult for motorists to drive through.

The biggest challenge, however, is the Yewa River which runs across the road and usually overflows the little bridge constructed on it by the Military administration of the Late Gen Oladipo Diya in 1985.

Our correspondent, who visited the community, recently observed that the huge river had submerged the road cutting off the residents from other neighbouring communities such as Abotokio, Ijoun, Tata, Igan Alade among others.

This road aside leading to Aiyetoro, the headquarters of the Yewa North Local Government also connects other six communities such as Sunwa, Eripa, Odaniga, Farina, Ika Orile, Owode-Ketu among others.

The residents of Owode-Ketu led by their Baale, the head of the community, Rev Sanya Fabuyi who spoke to our correspondent during the visit disclosed that, once the rainy season began, this Yewa River would flood the road hindering their mobility, paralysing their economy and social life.

They disclosed that this albatross is what they have had to deal with from time immemorial causing them excruciating pains, and unquantifiable losses due to their inability to freely move out their agricultural products while all efforts to alter this sad course had proved abortive as successive government in the state has done nothing despite several pleas and letters written to seek for urgent intervention.

Our correspondent learnt that about a month ago, a pregnant woman being taken on a motorcycle from Abotokio to the primary healthcare care centre at Owode-Ketu delivered at the shore of the river because the journey had to be truncated due to the river which has covered the road.

Speaking with our correspondent, the community head of Owode-Ketu, 80-year-old Fabuyi said, “The challenge of this river has been here for a very long time. I could remember that around 1973, we tried to do something but we never succeeded, however, in 1984 a group within the community was able to use some planks to build a kind of bridge on this road.

“In 1985, Late Gen Oladipo Diya who was the military governor at that time was passing by this road and saw the plank bridge. He thereafter directed that this bridge should be constructed but the problem is that this bridge is too small, so the Yewa River easily overflows it and floods the road making life so difficult for us.

“We can’t go out of the community as we want, we can’t take our farm produce out, it is really a big burden to us because our economy has nosedived. Our children who have to waddle through the water to go to school are only risking their lives. We have always been calling on the government to help us construct this road as well as the bridge but we are still expecting a favourable reply from them.

“Though, the government has helped in the past in grading the road the solution is the construction of a bigger bridge and the asphalting of the road. The economic importance of this road is huge because it leads to other six communities including Aiyetoro and from there to Abeokuta but once it is April till November, it is a total roadblock.

“I can tell you that the volume of letters we have written to the appropriate quarters over this problem from time immemorial if bound together could be enough to send a child through primary to the university. We are appealing to Governor Dapo Abiodun to please help put this terrible season behind us because once the rain begins, our nightmare begins.

“We believe God that He will use Governor Abiodun to wipe away our tears. We are all very supportive of the ruling All Progressives Congress. We voted for the party massively during the last election and we believe that the government will reciprocate this gesture by helping us to put this challenge behind us”.

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

Oderinde said that for instance the Yewa North Local Government Primary School 1 with a population of about 548 pupils, had just two buildings while one of the buildings needed urgent repairs as the students would have to be moved to one corner to prevent them from being drenched whenever it rains.

He said the school did not have enough teachers, saying it could boast of only seven teachers with three of them employed by the parents. He called on 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 this community, Owode-Ketu Commercial High School, saying that the major cause of misfortune that had befallen this school was rooted in the problem of lack of access road to the community.

He said “We don’t have enough teachers in this school, many times, the government will post some teachers but they will find a way to go back because of this road challenge. 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 parents.

“The buildings also are 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”.

Mrs Kikelomo Fayomi, a trader lamented the devastating state of the road saying that it had nearly turned them into beggars because of their inability to freely move around to sell their goods

Fayomi explained that “we are only using this medium to beg the government to help us construct our road and this bridge because we can’t do our businesses as traders. We can’t access other neighbouring communities, we are really suffering. Our children don’t come home again because of this river, they prefer to call on the phone, so this thing is really affecting us. We are just begging

Governor Abiodun to wipe away our tears”.

Speaking over the calamitous situation of the community, the Commissioner for Works in the state, Ade Adesanya said that the government was aware of the condition of this 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 of this road, the river is always overflowing to the road. We have sent our Engineers down, I have the videos. The bridge over the road is clogged, and the passage which 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 well aware of the situation.