Engr. Olatoke Olaniyan , Special Adviser to Governor Gboyega Oyetola on Works and Transportation in Osun State, in an Exclusive Interview with Oluwapelumi Fasoyin spoke on the present state of road networks in Osun State.
He emphatically stated that owing to the emergence of the present administration, the Ministry has made it into the range of 80-90 percent as the administration is not resting on her oars and still intends to do better.
How would you describe the current road network in the state?
Osun State has over 6,500 networks of roads, some of which are Federal Roads, State owned roads and Local government roads. If those roads belong to the state of Osun, we have a duty of care of them.
However, the roads inter-connecting major cities like Osogbo-Iwo road is a Federal but Osun state Governor Gboyega Oyetola has done a lot of work to encourage the Federal authorities to put the road back to a motorable one and am happy that as we speak work has commenced on the road.
Similarly, Ilesha-Akure road, Oyetola has called on the Federal agency in charge of the road to put more efforts to make sure the road is in good condition. Also, the road between Gbongan and Osogbo is currently undergoing rehabilitation work.
Thus, the state has been able to achieve some rehabilitation, reconstruction, and expansion due to the initiative of the state government, although it’s a federal road , but the state government has come into it for the expansion and rehabilitation of the road which we expect the Federal Government to refund the state government.
Similarly, the road to Osogbo passing through Ikirun is also a Federal road but the state government is doing to make sure the road is in good shape.
We have state roads that we are working on, good a thing that most of our cities in the state are connected with roads, the issue is what conditions are these roads? Some are in fair conditions while some are in bad conditions and since the advent of this administration, we have been doing the best. The situation is not as bad as some other states because in some states you can hardly move from one city in the state to another, but in our own situation, yes we have challenges but those challenges are brought by collapse of infrastructure, covet and the rest. However, we are not lying down as we have commenced reconstruction and rehabilitation of a number of them and we are not going to rest until we put all of them to a proper care for ease of movement for the public.
Who is Mr. Governor?
We are talking of a gentleman of gentlemen, we are talking of someone who will not make a promise and will not fulfill, we are talking of someone who is so endowed by God, with credible intelligence who has a firm grip of financial management and I can say that Osun state is lucky to have him.
We thank God for bringing him on board at this crucial time of the journey of this state and its clear on how he has been steering and managing the ship of the state, don’t forget that before his coming the shout everywhere is “AFUSA” acronym of “Half Salary”. But here is a God sent who since he has resumed office and power has been ensuring that all workers get their salary in full as at when due. To some people they might say what is there in paying salary, but for those who know the kind of financial situation this state is, they will give kudos to this man for ensuring that and not just that salaries are been paid but he is embarking on developmental projects, capital project. He is someone who does not believe in making noise, he is a silent achiever, some people have christened him talk and do governor. He will not utter something when he is not sure that he will not achieve it and I think that is a hallmark of integrity.
That is Mr. Governor and I am proud to be part of his members of his team, am proud to work with him because each of us in his cabinet learn new things from him daily. Here is a man who no matter how voluminous proposal is, he will take his time to read everything through and he will not be part of anything that might bring this state to debt again. He makes sure he filters everything and ensure that things are done properly such that the state will be the best and beneficiary of whatever action he takes.
So far, what is your ministry’s scorecard?
We thank God since we came to power, we have been doing some silent revolution, though am in charge of Osun Road Maintenance Agency [ORMA] and office of transportation and also I have contributions to make in the main Ministry of works, but let me talk about ORMA and office of transportation. Before I came on board ORMA was in comatose, it has not done any meaningful thing in the last two to three years but thank God my coming on board because we have been able to revive that, we have been able to revitalize ORMA, we have embarked on certain maintenance work, we did the rehabilitation of Oke-fia to station road, rehabilitation of Old Garage to Station road, Oke-Baale, Oba-Ile road, we have able to restore that road to a motorable condition, as we speak, also a community in Iragbiji which is called Apete the bus covet has collapsed many years back and as we speak now the repair has been substantially completed and that road will be opened to traffic in a month from now.
ORMA has responded to the complains of the public in the state, at Ayekaale area in Osogbo the covet in the area collapsed as a result to the recent heavy rain and as we speak the reconstruction is taking place which is now at 80-90% state of completion and the place will be restored to the members of the public in about a month time. We have also commenced the reconstruction of Osogbo. Kelebe, Iragbiji, we have carried out the rehabilitation of Five network of roads at Alekuwodo area of Osogbo, we are at Ilesha looking at the Eleguru road, we are in Edunabo, Ipetumodu area where we are working on the road connecting to the express, we are also at Ada-Igbajo road working on that road, that road was worked upon about 32years ago, we are back on that road and the contractors has started working. The work that is ongoing on the Oba Oluremi Adesoji road that is linked to Stadium is not stopping, His Excellency ensures that the contractor is given the marching order to complete the road.
Also, through the efforts of the Governor, Osogbo-Iwo road is ongoing, Ifon-Ilobu road is also moving forward through the intervention of Oyetola and the Federal Government, the contractor is back to site.
We were also at a community to flag-off its construction of their road which is the Agba community, it is a 1.98km road and the Governor has given us the marching order to complete the road and that he wants the community to make use of the road by December so work is ongoing. Similarly, we are at Modakeke, the Famia road is undergoing rehabilitation and reconstruction as we speak.
However, the scorecard of the ministry is in the range of 80-90 percent because we are not resting on our work and we do not intend to rest. Like I did tell some people in another fora, Mr Governor and his team, all of us are here as indigenes of Osun state to develop our state, to give our state the kind of progressive attention it deserves, we are doing this and making self-service to sure that this state gets to the level we expects it to be and we are not tired of doing that and we are going to continue to do that because its our state and if we don’t do it who else will do it for us? Nobody.
What are your plans on yet to be completed projects across the state?
Yes, we have a lot of good plans that we have penciled down and as time goes on this will come to its form gradually and as we do it, it will be clear and manifest to the eyes of the people.
The Government implemented operation “Light Up Osun”. What are the measures taking place to ensure the continuation of the Program?
Operation Light Osun is dear to the heart of Mr. Governor and like you know when you have plans on project, there are times you come back to re-evaluate your plan, re-strategize and then move forward. I can assure you that this special project is still receiving the attention of the Governor which will receive a continuous implementation and as time goes on it will be made manifest to all.
How does your ministry intend to improve the state of buses and cabs in the state?
Right now, the operators in the transport sector comprises mostly of private individuals who run there “Korope”, mini-buses or keke napep, Okada and others.
Government had intervened in the past to arrange a kind of empowerment for them, but the government had a bad experience with that scheme. They stood as guarantor for them, vehicles were purchased on loan with expectation that they will pay back, but many of them did not pay but rather ran away with the vehicle.
However, we are able to retrieve some of the vehicles, but some of the individuals melted into the thin air and for some of them the people that stood guarantor for them had to pay, most of them had guarantors who are civil servants and they had to repay the loans taken by their people, which is the best the government can do.
We have also found out with the experience of other people and states that government should not really have business with business because the truth of the matter is that majority of individuals look at the government as givers of freebies and when that come they look at it as their own free gifts, forgetting that if they work hard and to repay loans, they will empower others coming behind them. So the experience of the government has been bad in this regard, but the government has provided them with enabling environments, that is we are encouraging them, we are making sure that the environment in which they do operate is conducive for them to promote, propagate their business.
How do you manage the antics of transport unions apart from other challenges?
We have realized that the best approach to mans management is to dialogue, so constantly we are engaging them on monthly bases, we have meetings with leadership of the transport unions to look at the issues they have and try and solve their issues wherever area that the government should come in to ease their issue we do that and we can see that for a long period of time there have been no issues that has generated any controversy coming from their sector, which is the evidence that we are engaging them.
Your Ministry and the transport unions in the state have cordial relationship now that the Federal Government implemented the removal of subsidy. Does your ministry have control over the price of transportation? If yes, what is your plan to make sure there is control of transportation fare?
Well this is a nationwide thing and when there is any increase in fuel price or any other economic changes, people have the tendency of jacking up their own prices in rendering their services. The best option we have in such circumstance is to always like we have been doing in engaging them, let us look at the issue together, what we can do to reduce the impact on the masses. When any of such situation arises, because of the cordial relationship we have with them, we always invite them to let us come to the round table, to examine issues, to proffer solutions. Afterall, the people of the state are the people we are serving as the Yoruba adage will say “ Irorun igi ni irorun Eye”, if things are to harsh for them it won’t be for the benefit of any of us. So, we thank God for the people we have in their leadership and we could always talk to them to mitigate the effect of such increase in prices. So therefore, is a work in progress and is something that will continue from time to time without getting tired.
What will you like to tell motorist and other citizens in the state of Osun as Work and Transport is concern?
Firstly, to the motorist, I will like to thank them because they have been cooperating with us, the relationship we have established with them is actually yielding fruitful results and I will like us to continue in that way. Recently a session of the leadership of the NURTW for the mini-buses came to me to discuss some issues which I told them to list out so that I can have their chatter of demands and I will also list my issues with them so that we can meet again so that we can rub minds together to look so as to jointly proffer solutions to those challenges. There is no way we can do it without facing challenges even life itself is precarious because as you are solving one challenge another one is coming up. The best is to confront the challenges by dialoging together, find solutions to the problem, let us see where I can give and where I can take and vice versa because it is a give and take thing. I want to urge them not to close their door against dialogue, constructive dialogue, gainful dialogue because that is the way to move forward, violence doesn’t bring anything forth at the end of the day, if you engage in violence you damage things, you injure yourself and you have to come to the table to talk again. So why don’t we continue to talk and for me to make small sacrifice here and for you to make sacrifice here also and we move ahead. Will also want to encourage them to ensure that they have their complete driving papers like their driver’s license, vehicle license, insurance, road taxes and the rest because it is in doing so, that is the only way we will be able to get more funds in repairing the road that they are plying on for their trade, and without that there won’t be much route to ply and the government has to provide this services which means they should pay all the road taxes must be paid as at when due.
Am also appealing to them to let us continue with this spirit of cooperation and to always obey traffic rules, not to commit any of this traffic offenses because there are laws against them. Some of the laws warrants imprisonment apart from paying fines but because we are in “Omoluabi” state we are doing things like “Omoluabi”, but it will be painful if some of the NURTW members are flouting the law.
We therefore appeal to them to tell their members not to flout the laws, not to drink while driving, if you are drunk don’t drive because a drunk man cannot respect any traffic rules and regulations and can even lose his life or even kill someone in the process, so why go about taking narcotic substance or alcoholic drink behind the wheel, it does not pay. We urge them to talk to their people both Bike-riders, mini-buses drivers, the Tipper lorry drivers also and they should know that once they are behind the wheel the people’s lives are in their hands.
However, to the generality of the citizens, I want to appeal to them, this is their government. As this government is a government of the people, they are our employers, whatever we are doing we are doing it on their behalf, we therefore need their cooperation, understanding and everyone should pay his or her tax as at when due because it is very important.
Also we implore our citizens to cooperate with the government on any issue that the government must have given instructions or directive or advice because everything comes back to them, like this COVID-19 issue, we have been enjoined to maintain and observe all necessary protocol stated out by the NCDC because it is our interest to do so. We don’t want people to be sick as it is causing the government a lot of money to put all this services in place because a healthy citizen is a happy citizen. When you are healthy and strong you will be able to contribute your own quota to the economic development of your family and state, so we want them to be healthy and part of the things to do is to follow the directives of the NCDC and we also advice the citizens to always check on their health status and not wait until they breakdown before they check themselves.