By Fisayo Falodi
Pessimists were absolutely in doubt and critics considered it unthinkable on February 20, 2018 when Ondo State Governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, flagged-off the construction of some muti-billion naira projects in the Southern Senatorial District of the state. The flag-off of the construction of the projects was part of the Governor Akeredolu-led government’s commitment to the rapid transformation of the Sunshine State from an agrarian to an industrial hub.
When Akeredolu assumed office on February 24, 2017 as the governor, not a few people expressed worry over the poor state of the state’s economy. Besides the seven months unpaid salaries he inherited from the administration of his immediate predecessor, Akeredolu also met N220 billion debt believed by the pessimists to be huge enough to frighten and threaten the stability of the young administration. The debt and the unpaid salaries raised the pessimists’ doubt about the governor’s avowed determination to fulfill his campaign promises part of which is to lay the foundation for the industrial development of the state for the main purpose of creating wealth and jobs for the already devastated unemployed youths in the Sunshine State.
As a thoughtful leader with the ability to balance and prioritise multiple agenda, Akeredolu stood before thousands of the people of Ore, including travellers and traders, in Odigbo Local Government area, exactly 24 months ago to dismiss the people’s worry over the possibility of executing the multi-billion naira projects. The fear stemmed from the fact that this period was the time the state was passing through total financial straight jacket.
While flagging-off the construction of the Ore Interchange (Fly-Over) described as monumental and impactful by his administration, the governor had said, “As a government that is irrevocably committed to the welfare of its people in tandem with the positive change mantra of our great party, we are determined to take this bold step in view of its numerous inherent advantages.
“We remain undeterred by the huge cost of this gigantic project and we promise that we shall complete and commission it in no distant time.
“One of the reasons why we decided to embark on this project is to put an end to the constant carnage experienced on this road intersection which often led to loss of lives and materials.
“Aside from putting an end to preventable accidents, the aesthetic value of the city will also be enhanced.”
The Interchange (Fly-Over) consists of three Spans 15-metre, 30-metre and 15-metre (Pre stressed concrete) covering a length of 60 metre, 13 metre carriage width with 1.5 metre walkway on both sides.
Embedded also in this bridge are numerous piles of 800 milimetre diameter to a depth of not less than 10 metre (in the case of the piers and abutments).
The interchange (partial cloverleaf) which has 167 metre and 182 metre length on either sides, carriage width of 8m with 1.5 metre walkway on both sides and a fill embankment average height of 4m with the needful slope and its protection. The approach road to the bridge is a length of one kilometre, with 13 metere carriage width and 1.5 metere walkway on both sides. This is also inclusive of 12 metre of fill embankment with the appropriate slope and its protection
On the same day, Akeredolu also allayed the deep-rooted fear over the perennial joblessness among the youths in the state as he mobilised members of the state executive, traditional and religious leaders, among other stakeholders to flag-off the construction of the over N15 billion Industrial Park in Omotosho. The moves were parts of the activities to mark his administration’s one year in office.
Akeredolu had said that the quest to industrialise the state gathered greater momentum through the creation of the Ondo State Development and Investment Promotion Agency, ONDIPA, to midwife the establishment of new industries and reactivate the moribund and comatose ones under Public Private Partnership arrangement. Akeredolu’s administration was able to achieve the feat following the signing of Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with HESSMAC Nigeria Limited for the development, operation and management of the Industrial Park.
The Industrial Park, which covers a land area of 1000 hectares, will generate 15,000 direct employment and other auxiliary services from 400 industries that are expected to spring up in the place.
Governor Akeredolu had added: “An Industrial Park of this magnitude is typically accompanied by a number of technical and infrastructural facilities such as hotels and guest houses, textiles and apparels, telecommunications, furniture, garment, building materials, plastic products, gas pipeline and distribution among others, adding that the projects would be completed within 24 months.
One other project whose construction was flagged-off same day was the 18.1 kilometres Bye Pass Okitipupa-Igbokoda road.
The governor’s major concern is to eliminate the precious and productive time wasted by commuters and other traders going to Igbokoda and beyond who have hitherto been made to take the long and arduous journey through Okitipupa city centre.
Akeredolu has, as pledged before the people of Ondo State during his inauguration, been allocating the public resources to achieve the lofty objectives of providing good governance for every segment of the state.
It will be recalled that Akeredolu, who kicked off his 2016 governorship election campaign at Ore, promised the people that he would construct a fly-over for them.
With the cooperation of the people, coupled with the relative peace the administration has guaranteed across the length and breadth of the State, the governor is back with President Muhammadu Buhari to commission the Ore Interchange and Ore Industrial Hub tomorrow, Tuesday, February 25, 2020, the essence of which is to improve the economic and social wellbeing of the people.
So, the Ore Interchange now forms a good artery through which the economy of Ondo State pulses. Ore, being like a gateway city to Ondo State, has yearned for infrastructural development for ages. But the coming of the Interchange and the Industrial Hub will, no doubt, inject life into the economic activities of the ancient city and the state in general.
Because availability of infrastructure is of vital importance in order to make a state or country develop, the Ore Interchange, apart from its aesthetic benefits, will definitely make crucial contributions to the economic growth and facilitate the provision of other social benefits.
The needless waste of productive time will also be eliminated while loss of lives associated with road crashes along that axis of the Lagos-Ore-Benin Expressway will become a thing of the past.
The Ore Industrial Hub has equally opened Ondo State to hundreds of investors who have mobilised their respective resources to set up companies and other business in the area. So, Governor Akeredolu’s ingenuity is systematically tackling the challenges of joblessness, wants and poverty in Ondo State through his pro-people initiatives by changing the not-too-popular narrative of the Sunshine State from an agrarian state to an industrialised economy.
•Falodi is Press Secretary (Print) to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.