Rail project: 70 communities ‘cut off’ in Ogun demand road, bridge

The commissioning of the first phase of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway project in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, last Friday was disrupted by protests embarked upon by residents of about 70 host communities in the area.

The protesters stormed Ori village where the programme was holding carrying placards with different inscriptions, some of which read, ‘Our Movement to the Town is Restricted’, Our Children Want Access Roads’, ‘Our Water is Polluted We Need Drinkable Water’, and ‘Give Us Motorable Roads’.

Residents of the affected communities had complained that execution of the railway project had cut them off from the urban centres and, therefore, requested for access roads and overhead bridges for linkage.

The Chairman of the Community Development Association in the host community, Ogunwale Olukunle, told journalists that their children could not go to schools in the last two months due to the negative impact of the project on the communities.

Saying it wasn’t as if the communities weren’t happy with the rail project, Olukunle added the effects of the negative side of it were taking their toll too hard on the residents.

Our correspondents gathered that the residents had in a joint letter addressed to the contractor handling the rail project, the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and the Minister of Transportation raised some of the negative effects of the project.

A copy of the letter, dated January 31, 2019, and obtained by Eko Trust, was jointly signed by the General Baale, Olarewaju Adenekan; the Chairman of Akinseku CDA, Ogunwale Olukunle and the Chairman of Elefun-Jangede CDA, Idowu Bashiru.

It reads partly, “The above-named association with membership of over 150 villages and 70 communities, hereby bring this urgent and disturbing situation to your notice.

“When the Federal Government railway project started along our communities, the only government primary school serving all these communities was demolished. The effort of the Federal Government in building another one succeeded, but the location at which it was sited made it difficult for our children in all these communities to cross the railway line, and there is no vehicular movement, let alone motorcycles and a pedestrian bridge to pass through it.

“The children have to trek a distance of over 20 kilometres through a wrong bush-path where kidnapping activities are prevalent to get to school, while some have to climb the deep tunnel in order to get to school.

“As a matter of fact, many of these children get to school late daily, while a few of them have not been attending school again for the past two months. The children have resolved to be going to farm with their parents instead of going to school to learn.

“We, therefore, call for your urgent intervention through the Ministry of Transportation to come to our aid in order for the future of our children not to be truncated. We appeal you provide for us a bridge for vehicles that will also care for pedestrians.”

In his response, the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, ordered the CCECC to address all the issues raised by the residents of the host communities.

Amaechi, however, pointed out that the government had not encountered such a complaint from other areas which the rail project passes through.

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