Some residents of Ilorin, the Kwara State capital were recently apprehensive when reports spread on social media that the state Asphalt Plant had been shutdown indefinitely and purportedly halted rehabilitation of roads within the metropolis. AHMED 'LATEEF visited the plant yesterday and filed this report.
The commissioning of the newly procured state asphalt plant by the Governor, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed, ignited some relief among residents of the capital city particularly the motorists and other road users who had gone through the effects of potholes on major roads.
Before the opening of the plant for use, major roads in the city were gradually shadows of themselves. Each portion of the roads was dotted by mind boggling potholes and ditches, thus intensifying anxiety and apprehension with concomitant damages to vehicles. Little surprise that good road network is regarded prerequisite hitch-free vehicular movement.
From Tanke to Railway Station, Emir's Road to Oja-Oba and Sobi to Okelele among others, the roads had become deplorable while users expressed concern over why the situation seemed to have defied solution.
The development also resulted in blame game prompting government to quickly unveil and lay bare what it has been doing silently to bring succour to the distraught motorists and other users of the affected roads.
It took government several times to refute claims by opposition that it has abandoned its primary responsibility to providing basic amenities and attending to the needs of the people.
The government also announced that it had already concluded arrangement to open an asphalt plant to ease and facilitate accessibility to asphalt for repair of roads regularly without any hindrance.
In the bid to calm the frayed nerves, the state government thereafter opened the plant situated within the premises of Kwara State Road Traffic Management Authority (KWARTMA) at the official commissioning performed by the state Governor.
Shortly after the commissioning, the state Road Maintenance Agency commenced rehabilitation on some portions of the roads that had been riddled by potholes and ditches.
However, as cheering as the news of rehabilitation was when it began, it was not long that the work stopped raising many questions especially on why some of the roads were half-done.
With the temporary stoppage of repair work, report was rife on the social media that the asphalt plant, which was basically built to address some of the dilapidated roads had been shutdown.
However, our correspondent's visit to the site of the plant yesterday showed that a truck load of bitumen had already arrived the plant and was seen undergoing processes before being taken out to perform repair on some roads.
Some workers in the plant were seen working on the processes preparatory for final rehabilitation of roads within the city.
The state Commissioner for Works and Transport, Alhaji Aro Yahaya, also visited the site yesterday and denied that the plant was shutdown when our correspondent approached him.
He said there was nothing to believe in the report trending in the social media that the plant was closed down, assuring that the state government would not renege on its promises to the people of the state.
Yahaya stated that the government had challenge of procuring bitumen, which took it several days before it could get and pledged that the work will commence in earnest.
"First and foremost, let me correct the erroneous impression that rehabilitation on our roads had stopped. It has never stopped. Few weeks ago, we spent a week trying to rehabilitate and maintain road network within Kwara State Polytechnic before their convocation. And after that week, we started rehabilitating roads linking Saboline, Opo-Malu to Edun. That axis remains a very small portions for us to complete and from there, we went on holiday.
"But we have a challenge. And that challenge was based on inadequate supply of bitumen. Therefore, am happy to say that yesterday (Monday) we have started receiving bitumen. As it is now, the vehicle that brought the bitumen is still discharging.
"So, hopefully insha Allah and as I said earlier sometime last month that this month January we are going to resume massively the rehabilitation of our damaged roads and filling of potholes within the metropolis before moving to other outskirts of the city. We have reasonable materials on ground to facilitate our work.
"We want to appeal to our people of Kwara State especially those residing within the metropolis to exercise patience. Very soon insha Allah, the issue of potholes and damaged portions on our roads will be a thing of the past. But at the same time, we still solicit their cooperation to maintain these roads when they are fixed back. Not only that, they should also maintain the drainages. One of the major factors causing damages to these roads is the inability to manage these drainages that create overflow of water during the rainy season on our roads. So, we want to appeal to Kwarans, especially those resident within the metropolis that they should maintain the drainages across the state.
"From all indications, the work will commence tomorrow (today). Already, we have started work today (yesterday). If you go to Offa-Garage side, you will see that our people have started working. They are cutting the road for dressing. So, work will commence as soon as they finish discharging this bitumen", the Commissioner assured.