By Banji Aluko – Benin City
Located in between two major roads, namely Upper Sakponba and Sapele roads in Benin, Edo State, are Erediauwa Street, Obayuwana Street, Odiase Street, Osarenren Street, Ogieva Street and many more. These streets are evidently not the most glamorous in the ancient city of Benin, hence they are populated by low income earners, indigent and old people.
None of the big Benin hotels could be found in these places, neither could the house of one notable politician or top politician could be pointed out among the many “face me I face you” bungalows and some storey-buildings in the locality.
Despite the developmental odds staring residents of these areas in the face, the locality is currently host to one of the largest communal road construction works ongoing in Edo State. Not even the fact that they are far flung from the prying eyes of travelers and visitors to Benin City could deter Governor Adams Oshiomhole from bringing development to their doorsteps.
Before now, many of the roads were not accessible for vehicles while some of them were completely overrun by flood during raining season. One of the roads, Erediauwa Street, was constructed some years ago by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) but collapsed due to what residents attributed to lack of drainage. Some others had never been tarred before.
The story is, however, changing as the bulldozers stormed the area upon the end of the raining season late last year.
In total, 26 adjoining roads of about 10 kilometers have been kickstarted in the area by the Edo State government. Some of the roads such as Obayuwana, Odiase, Osarenren and Ogieva streets have even been completed with side drainage, while work is ongoing in some others.
The state government is doing this along with the reconstruction of some failed portions of roads in areas such Ihiama Road, Boundary Road, Aigobasimwin, Adesuwa, all located within the Benin GRA.
No wonder residents of the area trooped out when a government delegation led by the Executive Director, Media and Public Affairs to Governor Adams Oshiomhole, John Mayaki, visited their area.
Seeing a white Toyota Hiace bus, they had thought that Governor Oshiomhole had come to inspect ongoing work in their area, so many of them rushed out of their apartments to thank the one they call Comrade Governor.
They were not disappointed still, when they saw that the visitors were agents of government. They could not hide their joy as emotions run high.
75-year-old Elder Robert Agbontean said he had long given up that the road living to his house will ever be completed in his time.
He pointed out that dividend of democracy was an expression he had heard for a long time, but for the first in his life he finally understood what the expression meant.
“It is not today that I have been hearing of democracy; but for the first time in my life, I can feel it. I now live in GRA. The road was impassable before. There were holes everywhere and our houses were flooded. We thank Oshiomhole for these roads.
We are enjoying Oshiomhole’s government very well. As Oshiomhole did this for us, God will give him all he wants.
He was not alone. His neigbhour, Pa Sunday Igun, also expressed joy over the road construction.
He said tenants packed out of his house when the roads be are practically impassable, adding that life was gradually returning to the area as people have started returning.
A tricycle operator, Sunday Eugene from Cross River state was also thankful as he said the reconstructed roads have impacted into his life.
“I no longer repair my Keke as I used to do before now. The roads are now good and beautiful. We are now enjoying life. Before now, we practically drove keke inside flood.
Speaking on the effort, Executive Director, Media and Public Affairs to Governor Adams Oshiomhole, John Mayaki, said the state governor was touched by the plight of the people leaving in the area as they have usually been on the receiving end of flood due to lack of drainage.
He said other areas with similar challenges would be visited, even as government continued to tackle the problem of flood in the state capital with the storm water project.
According to him, “we can see evidently that work is ongoing at Erediauwa road, Second East Circular and in other parts of Benin City. We need to appreciate the state government under Adams Oshiomhole for its effort.
We encourage the people to appreciate government’s effort at buildings roads in spite of dwindling resources.
Erediauwa road and other streets that are being constructed will, no doubt, boost commercial activities in the area.”