Okeluse: A neglected community!
Okeluse: A neglected community!
Okeluse is in Osse Local government in Ondo State.
An Appeal fund for everybody
The long bridge is attractive as one sighted it from afar off but a closer look at it one could see abandoned iron rods and other construction equipment meant for the construction of the bridge. While the townsmen through their communal effort used rough woods to construct steps to ascend and descend in crossing Okeluse ( Ondo state ) to the other state ( Edo state) .This also showed the uncompleted part of the bridge .A look at the uncompleted Ogbese bridge which links Ondo and Edo states could draw tears from one’s eyes seeing what the Federal Government had invested into this uncompleted gigantic project which was started since 2005 but begging for completion
The wooden step constructed for easy crossing
Now the surrounding has overgrown with weeds while the abandonment has caused a lot of heated arguments and controversies over who is to blame with the huge of money pumped into it. While in some angle some said the federal government had fully paid for the construction of the bridge but some denied while few are imploring the EFCC to go into it and ask questions.
Some of the caterpillar equipment grown with weeds
Now the bridge which is supposed to be used after completion has been abandoned while people from the neighboring communities are finding it difficult to pass through and instead opted for canoe which according to them had drown many especially during rainy season.
For Chief Akogun Kumapayi the head of the committee of the construction of the bridge ,said ”we are no longer safe aside from the poor transportation network .
According to the town’s monarch Oba Adeyeoba Owasunloye III the Arujale Ojima of Okeluse ”these implements had been abandoned over 10years while this company had stopped working and this stopped the completion of the bridge which has gotten to 90percent completion”.
For the people in Okeluse in Ose Local government they claimed their community had been abandoned for a very long time as they had never for once tasted dividends of democracy.
Tucked in the bowel of Ondo State, the town Okeluse is populated with about 400,000people and they are basically into agriculture as their main business.
The town is the connecting link between Edo state and Ondo State , and if the the bridge is completed one can from there travel easily to Edo , Akure, Ore, Lagos at a lesser time framed
Another vehicle wasting away
The Okeluse -Edo State bridge has been in progress for the past 10years but it is begging for completion .The road which could have taken a commuter 10minutes drive from Okeluse to Edo is now abandoned waiting for completion .
”We met the contractor in 2013 ,when they came back to the site , and ever since then he has not come back here and that was the time I saw him last but the Site Engineer supervising used to come here , she is the person supervising the construction work’,said one of the community members
Taiwo Abiodun and The Ocaeanic News reporter,Jide Tububo in a canoe crossing to the other side
Comfort Anifowola who went through wooden canoe to Edo lamented ” this is what we have been suffering here.There is neither state or Federal government presence here at all .We are suffering as we pay 50 naira to cross to Edo state which is less than five minutes journey by paddling a canoe!”.
Anifowola continued “we have appealed to the government both at the local and state levels but the story is all the same thing as they said the contractor that handled it was not given money to continue and that it is federal government’s job”.
Deaconess Olabode another passenger was not happy as she said she is hydrophobia , she said ”I am not used to travel by water, I have hydrophobia but what do I do ? My children have warned me not to be traveling by water since I cannot swim , and if this bridge is completed one does not need going by boat as one would only cross to the other side”, she added ” many people have been robbed here just because they cannot swim , not only that some of these dare devil armed robbers have thrown people into the river and we have seen corpses flowing on the river”
Chief Akogun Igbumesun , who is the Community leader of the town said ” we are no longer safe aside from the poor transportation network. Armed robbers drive stolen vehicles and ferried them across the river which is less than three minutes journey to Edo State. Criminal activities go on here because most of our people cannot swim thus it is an opportunity for them to use the place as a transit for their nefarious activities.But if the road is completed then life would be easy for us all.”
On the efforts they had made so far , Igbumesun said ” we have written letters , we have contacted the the government but nothing was forthcoming .
“We have the highest number of votes here and during the political campaign these politicians would come here and beg us to vote for them and when they won they forget totally about us.
The Igbinedon town is just less than a mile to this place yet one cannot walk in or walk out without the use of ferry or canoe!
At the working site of the company one could see reptiles and weeds that had overtaken the place.The buildings are dilapidated and trees have sprouted up in them .The rooms have been taken over by snakes and animals .Some of the machines like the earth shaking machines like caterpillars( CAT) , bulldozers, cranes, tipper lorries, industrial generators, cement mixing machines, rollers are rusting away
Wooden canoe used to ferry goods ,its just less than five minutes to the other side
Investigation reveals that the Managing Director of the Company handling the project is no more and it was also investigated that government has not paid up to complete the project.
But the former House of Representatives Omosule from Osse/ Owo Zone when contacted said the project is a federal government one and it is a gradual payment depending on the stage and status it gets to,he however praised the company for spending more to the project which he thought would make it possible for the government to pay
Taiwo Abiodun inspecting the earth moving machine
According to Omosule, the bridge’s construction started in 2005 during the regime of the PDP when Hon. Alaba Ojomo e a petition to the Federal Ministry of Works and they came ,I mobilized them with 500 ,000 naira to come and look at it .Thewas in the House of Representatives. He expatiated further ” While the project started the federal government mobilized the contractor and only poles were erected there and from 2008 to 2010 nothing was put there until 2011 when I came in and wrotn they it was not in the budget and nothing could be done for they found only pillars and we wrote again to the Ministry of Works (Highway) about the job and they promised to put it into 2012 budget but it was or pushed.
Machines wasting away
In 2013 there was no enough money as about 180 percent suffered a defeat and nothing given .However in the 2014 budget , the bridge was awarded with the sum of 300 million naira to Adekitan Construction company while I called the representatives of the youths , House and the community members to come and look at the project and it started.
Another abandoned vehicle
After series of petitions from me and pleadings that the work should continue and they should be paid we later learnt that the Managing Director of the construction company has lost his sight and was in London hospital so he could not continue and the federal government cannot pay anybody except him.Even if his deputy came he cannot be paid .But unfortunately the man had spent more than what he was given to start the job as the job was almost completed and needed to be paid on what he has done so far.
Earth moving machine abandoned years ago !
Omosule said though the project is a long term project and the government needed to be checking it stage by stage as it does not need to be hurriedly done now based on what he has done so far he should be given 105 million naira.
But since he is not available now , it is the Board of Directors of the company that can come forward to complain and this project has been forestalled now”.
The town’s monarch Oba Adeyeoba Owasunloye III the Arujale Ojima of Okeluse said he is not happy about the situation, his words ” we are all in the dark as we heard so many rumours about the uncompleted Ogbese bridge.Some claimed they have fully paid for the completion of the bridge while others said the federal government is yet to balance and let the contractor finish his job, so we are at lost.My pleading to those concerned is to let the bridge completed on term. Everywhere is developing and we are still backward here, imagine a project that started since 2005!.This is baffling us here and we are not happy here at all”. the community head declared to taiwoabiodun.com
waiting endlessly they thought a Messiah had arrived when two years ago some of the leaders approached the the Minister of works ,Mike Onolememeh who promised to look into their complaints,thus they happily wrote the following letter and posted it on facebook
Okeluse Sons and Daughters
March 23 ·
OGBESE BRIDGE : BREAKING NEWS
OGBESE BRIDGE @ OKELUSE “COMPLETED & FULLY PAID FOR”
—-Minister for Works, Mike Onolememen (Arch)
Who says perseverance has no gains? Who says only elected people can make things happen? The moribund Ogbese bridge project in Okeluse has proved that when people unite and work together, things happen.
We want to thank all the concerned Nigerians who read about the plight of our people in Okeluse regarding the truncated bridge and responded.
We are humbled at the myriad of support we got from Nigerians especially concerned politicians from the north as well as friends from Okitipupa, Akure, Owo, Ute, Ifon and many of the fighters from Bayelsa, Imo, Enugu states. Special thanks to our brothers from Cross Rivers who gave us useful tips. We cannot but mention our dependable motivators who are outside the shores of this nation. Those in Europe and USA who join us in the fight to get to the roots of the Ogbese bridge debacle in order to finish it soonest. We thank you guys in South Africa, Ghana, Brazil, etc who expressed solidarity with us and gave us hints on what to do through their inbox message
From Okeluse we want to appreciate Rev. Cannon Emmanuel Olasehinde Sunday for his steadfastness and backing. He alone of the multitude from our city showed his genuine concern and gave us his support in our campaign while othsimply thought we are embarking on a risky adventure. Thanks to Ayibiowu Donald Esq for his willingness to work from his Abuja office. We believe there are many sons and daughters who are working privately. To you all we say thank you. The campaign is working.
The Ogbese bridge is for all Nigerians but some people will benefit more than others. We fall into that group of immediate beneficiaries. We all therefore need to collectively unite in order to alleviate the suffering of our people. Thanks to all those who join us in our campaign. The struggle has just begun! But with God we shall be victorious.
After several months of our campaign to call the attention of those connected to the Ogbese bridge at Okeluse, we finally got the rare privilege to talk to the Minister for Works, Mike Onolememen Arch. His assertion is shocking to say the least.
When we began this campaign, many people responded and we got the engineer in charge of the bridge. She shed light on the work and her company. She revealed to us that her Director, Mr Dele Olagunju of Dekit Construction company is alive as well as the company. Efforts to get Dele Olagunju to talk to us remains unfruitful.
We also reported that the bridge has become a white elephant to the politicians both in our state and elsewhere. We have launched many attempts to speak to the officers of the Federal Ministry of Works. We got many of them but they were not in the position of authority to speak on the Ogbese bridge at Okeluse. We went to the Ministry of Works to talk to their staff but many of them declined to comment on the work.
In February, we got a link to the Federal Minister of Works himself, Mike Onolememen Arch who did not waste time in clearing the air and putting the records about the bridge straight as it is.
The Honourable Minister was baffled that the Ogbese bridge at Okeluse is uncompleted. He was saddened at man’s inhumanity to man. According to him, “The funds had been given to them long ago but they took it and couldn’t complete the job”. As far as his office was concerned, the bridge is COMPLETED because it has been FULLY PAID for. The Minister expressed remorse when he saw the pictures of the incomplete bridge which we sent to him as proofs.
The Minister believed that those in authority in Ondo state, especially our elected leaders, namely the Honourable representing our area; Hon. Eniolorunda Omoshule; Senator Boroffice, and Governor Mimiko were in the best position to pursue the project at the Federal level because it is a Federal project. According to him, those Federal officers have direct access to his office or any of his colleagues any time any day. “They are our boss. They put us here and can send us away from here. So we are answerable to them”, he added.
The Minister however showed his appreciation to us for bringing this abandoned project to his notice. “I want to use this medium to say a very big thank you for bringing this to my notice! I will include it to my list of uncompleted projects and soonest work will begin there again okay.Thank you once again I will not let you down!” The Minister added.
As things were, the bridge project was dead! What we have been able to achieve among many others is to reposition the bridge as an “UNCOMPLETED” project and bringing the work out of the dust bin and placing it on top of the Minister’s table for re-consideration.
We would have remained hopeful in nothing for years without knowing that the bridge has been “completed” and “fully paid for” on paper.
Now we stand a better chance since we now know the true pictures and situation of the bridge. Politicians cannot come to cajole us again with the bridge. The summary of the whole finding is that WORK IS DEAD ON THE BRIDGE!!! NO ONE IS WORKING ON IT NOW. THE CONTRACTOR IS NOT WORKING NEITHER IS ANYONE!!! Reason for this is that as said above, “the bridge is completed and fully paid for long time ago”.
We thank all Nigerians and concerned people. We want to call on all those office holders the Minister and we all hold responsible namely (Mimiko, Boroffice & Eni Omoshule) to wake up and approach the Ministry of Works for necessary corrections they have the power to effect before their time in office expires.
We call on all Nigerians especially Ondo and Edo states’ people to pull resources together so that this vital bridge will be completed speedily.
We welcome more suggestions on how we can go from here. Pls be assured that we shall always treat your suggestions confidentially. If you cannot share publicly please inbox your opinions or ideas. You are all well appreciated.
Two years after this letter there is no word head from them more so power has changed hands.
the community is now on their own.
However, investigation reveals that the man handling the project has died.
Now they have resorted to sand fill some areas of the bridge which will cost 4million naira to complete and now begging the good-spirited Nigerians , natives and government to come and assist them .