WHAT Edo people will always remember Governor Adams Oshiomhole for is the urban renewal programme of his administration. On assumption of office, he assured Edo people that he was going to fix the roads in the state since they were in deplorable conditions and the drainage system in Benin city was poor.
Whenever it was rainy season, residents told tales of woe. Water took over many residential apartments in most parts of the city. The administration started with the removal of illegal structures on the right of way, which generated initial furor , but Oshiomhole displayed rare courage by bringing all illegal structures down.A feat no administration in Edo had been able to achieve. Many people affected by the exercise, even though painful to them or their businesses openly lauded government’s initiative as it is appreciated as an exercise being done in utmost good faith.
The Ring Road, now known as King Square was where he had to start from. It was originally designed to be a master piece of historical, cultural and social attraction which was reduced to insignificance by the attendant chaotic situation and the presence of miscreants as a permanent but embarrassing feature. However the story is different today as government has cleared the Ring road, beautified, transformed and reformed it into a beautiful place and the pride of Edo State. Today, that part of the city looks pretty much better than the way the PDP led government left it.
The National Measuem is now a beehive of activities during festivities. Other chaotic roads cleared by the Transport ministry which are also in the beautification plan include Sakponba, Mission, Akpakpava, Siluko Road, Second West, Isinoro, Airport and Oba Market roads among several others. The beautification project is quite novel to Edo people as all roads constructed are provided with covered drains, street lights, sidewalks, and beautiful lawns in some cases. It wasn’t long into the life of his administration when the ministry of works within the framework of urban renewal embarked on and completed the rehabilitation of the following roads within Benin City alone: Akenzua Street, Dawson Road, Wire Road, Aideyan Street, Ben Oni Street, Boundary Road, Uwa, Giwa Amu Road, Jemide/Akhionbare Streets. Others are College Road, Agadagudu, Universal-Oghobaghase-Technical College Roads, Ihama Road, New Lagos Road by Eghosa/Okhoro Junction, Okhoro Road, St. Saviour Roads etc. In addition to the above mentioned roads that have been rehabilitated and put into good use, it is a common knowledge that the government also embarked on the Benin Water Storm project to fight perennial flooding in Benin City.
Others are Siluko roads which has been constructed and dualised with drainage structures and sidewalks at the cost of over N2.5bilion . Also, the Costain Isonorho road was designed and constructed with drainage structure including the adjoining 3rd, 4th and 5th Guobadia Lane and Oni Lane for the sum of N422.9m. The Five Junction Contract included the study, design and construction of flood control structures as well as upgrading of the roads, with the provision of street lights and beautification works at Five junction by Uselu-Lagos Road, Mid-West Street, Iheya Street, Iheya Lane 3rd Cemetery Road, Ivbiye Lane and Uwa Street in the affected basin for the sum of N2.5billion. All of these have been completed and commissioned. Akpakpava road currently wears a new look as flowers and street lights have given an unimagineable look to the area.
The dualisation of Upper Mission Road and adjoining roads up to Aduwawa has greatly improved movement of people and goods in the area and residents are quie pleased with government’s efforts. Residents of Costain Street in Benin heaved a sigh of relief following the conversion of the Costain Refuse Dump by the Oshiomhole administration into what is now known as Costain Green Park, a job executed by the Ministry of Environment. Foul-smelling stench that oozed out of the refuse dump site which sent so many residents to their early graves, with some abandoning their houses and ran away while a good number battled with different illnesses and reptiles before government’s the intervention efforts.
The Costain Green Park is now a beautiful place to behold today and currently serves as a recreation ground. All adjoining roads have been constructed and asphalted with street lights and re-named Gani Fawehinmi Layout. One of the major reasons attributable to the flooding of Benin City is the issue of blocked drains. The Edo State Ministry of Environment during the period under review embarked on general clearing of all drains in a most unprecedented manner. All side drains were opened up, even the Benin Moat in some areas such as the popular Five junction were also opened up to allow for free flow of flood water in Benin. That exercise has largely contributed to the deflooding of the state. In fact, there has been no loss of life to flood water as was the case in past years when flood water will move into people’s homes killing the aged and children. It will also be recalled that as a first step, and to have some quick intervention in some critical areas, government established and inaugurated the Rapid Response Agency on the 29th of July 2009.
The mandate of the agency includes the following: Emergency maintenance of roads and drainages, Emergency provision of potable water and electricity. Others are: Emergency reconstruction and rehabilitation of public infrastructure (Movable and immovable), Emergency provision of shelter as well as Youth Employment through the Youth Employment Scheme. This agency has been working round the clock fixing most roads in the city centre. Between 2015 and 2016, it has fixed a number of roads in the Government Reserved areas of Boundry Road, Ihama, Benoni, Adesuwa, and several others making them motor able. Lately, the dualisation of Upper Siluko Road by Teachers House and Second East circular roads with sidewalks, covered drainages and street lights tells the story of a promise made and a promise kept. Previous administrations had told Edo people that there was an evil spirit preventing the construction of Upper Siluko Road by Teachers House which is the way that leads to Ovia South West and Ovia North East Local Government Areas. Oshiomhole has been able to dislodge the evil spirits and fixed the road for use.
These roads are in Edo South Senatorial district alone. Several other roads have been constructed in other Local Government Areas of the district outside of Benin, and many more in the other two Senatorial districts in the State Given this development, Oshimhole has raised the stakes for the next governor of the state. Clearly, the next governor will not start from the King square as Oshiomhole did, but he must follow the good example set in terms of the quality of roads such as the six lane roads in Airport Road and Ugbowo among others be a priority.
Mr.Dan Owegiee, is a chieftain of the APC, in Edo State.