For decades, Ogbomoso has been held in the jugular by articulated vehicles’ invasion, a stimulus for mayhem on its major road that connects the southern and northern spheres of the country.
These often heavily ladened articulated vehicles otherwise known as trailers, deluge the roads with traffic snarls, fatal crashes, destructions and atrocious damages. They have been the cause of the many deaths and maiming several other road users including pedestrians, motorcyclists, motorists and road side shops and houses’ owners have suffered.
Ogbomoso of course is not the sole community at the receiving end of the trailer attacks, people in several other communities the particular road meanders through also groan in pain unendingly.
The last three weeks in Ogbomoso have particularly been hellish because of the unprecedented activities of these missiles on the road, engendered by the repairs being undertaken by the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) on a damaged stretch of the road from Bowen University Teaching Hospital end to the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary (NBTS) end, some one kilometre distance.
The stretch was outrageously degraded and the rehabilitation being carried out l is a welcome development and a huge relief to both residents and travellers. However, as it is with authorities in Nigeria, the consequences of closing the road to traffic were not thought out and envisaged, and this is the genesis of the current excruciating inconveniences being experienced.
First, vehicles including these ubiquitous trailers took a detour to the interior parts of the city, initially using a particular route but gradually as their mayhems increased on that interior alternative route, they fanned into other routes within the metropolis, igniting horrendous calamities. Degradation of the roads, pulling down of electric poles and cables with reckless abandon, accidents leading to several fatalities and obnoxious grounding of traffic in many parts of the city. It was abhorrent, aptly described as engendering the damage of over 20 kilometre roads due to repairs being effected on a kilometre road.
In a sane clime, collateral damages would have been anticipated and factored into the planning, and that would have led to working out of the best alternative. The chaotic situation has though abated presently due to partial opening of the road being repaired, stoppage by indigenes of the invasion of the interior by the articulated vehicles and the intervention of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), who began a resolute regulation of the movement of the long vehicles in batches. This returned some sanity and ensured smoother traffic flow by smaller vehicles.
Why one does not blame FERMA wholly for the development (the situation is just symptomatic of the depth of planlessness and despicability we have sunk into as a nation), l want to propose a stop-gap way out to prevent future occurrences.
The Federal Government has embarked on the construction of a new four-lane highway between Ibadan and Ilorin via Ogbomoso and Oyo, but while the Ogbomoso-Ilorin and Ibadan-Oyo portions had been completed and opened for use, the Ogbomoso-Oyo axis is comatose, 20 years after. Had it been that this critical road is completed, we wouldn’t have been under the siege of trailers and its attendant problems as we presently are faced with.
My proposal therefore is this: the stretch between the portion where the new highway from Ilorin ends at NTA area and somewhere around Arinkinkin to link the old road, be constructed for temporary use by the trailers even if it will be a single lane. The temporary road will follow the path charted for the new express road. This may look bizarre but it is the best to me in the circumstances. If this is executed, the metropolis will be saved of trailer deluges, damages to roads, trailers-induced accidents, traffic chaos among others.
FERMA can compensate us in Ogbomoso with this; our councils can consider this and and jointly execute the project and even the Oyo state government will do well to undertake it. It is a proposal that is worth it. No efforts or expenses can compare to preserving human lives and properties.