The journey from Akure, Ondo State capital to Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State capital used to be between 25 to 35 minutes, but the deplorable state of the highway has elongated the distance to over 1 hour 30 minutes.
Gradually, the hopes of motorists and the people of Ondo State on the rehabilitation of the Akure/Ado-Ekiti highway is waning.
For over five years, the highway, which is the shortest link between the two State capitals of Ondo and Ekiti States, has become a nightmare to travellers, with its attendant security risks.
Travelling from Akure to Ikere-Ekiti and Ado-Ekiti, as well as other Ekiti communities, motorists now take a longer route through Igbara-Oke before accessing Ekiti State through Igbara-Odo and Ilawe-Ekiti.
More frustrating for the people is that the road had been awarded for construction as a dualised carriageway but the lack of commitment on the part of the contractor at executing the project has continued to be a source of concern.
With a series of protests by residents and commuters over the state of the highway, the Akure/Ado-Ekiti road dualization is said to have been awarded at the cost of N22b to Dantata and Sawoe construction company.
According to findings, the project has been awarded since 2020 by the federal government, with mobilisation paid by the government for the dualization of the road.
A commercial driver, Olaniyi Sumonu, who plies the road frequently, disclosed that business had been dull as passengers now avoid the road in order not to be victims of criminals.
“Some passengers and motorists have lost their valuables on this road; the potholes have damaged many of our vehicles. This is a busy road that links the two States and it is sad that a journey of 25 minutes from Akure to Ado Ekiti now lasts for over an hour.
“The distance from Akure to Iju and Ita Ogbolu is so bad to the extent that some motorists spend hours on this road. Some private car owners prefer to take Igbara-Oke to get to Ado Ekiti because of their safety, not minding the time spent.
“Passengers and motorists cannot predict when they will reach their destinations while plying the road; some workers who ply the route on a daily basis in Akure or Ado Ekiti have stopped coming to work everyday.”
Folashade Ojo, an Ekiti State civil servant and motorist, claimed that she used to drive everyday from Akure to Ado-Ekiti for work but had to stop due to the state of the road.
She explained that it was now dangerous to drive from Akure to Ado-Ekiti, stressing that in addition to the threat of kidnapping, the route had turned into a depressing sight.
“My blood pressure increased every time I drove down this route. I often go to the clinic in addition to the mechanic’s shop once a week.
“I made the decision to go on weekends and come back on Mondays.
“I was compelled to relocate due to the difficulty of travelling through the road,” she stated.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has hinted on the readiness of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to take over the reconstruction of the road.
According to the Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adegoroye, the Federal Executive Council, FEC, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, approved a new funding structure for the reconstruction of the Akure-Ado Ekiti road.
The Minister also commended the efforts of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, and the former Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to draw the attention of the federal government to the road.
He said the Akure – Ado road project would be a major benefit for both Ondo and Ekiti States from the unprecedented 100 federal road projects embarked upon by the Muhammadu Buhari administration and currently ongoing across the country.
Adegoroye, while appreciating the good people of Ondo and Ekiti States for their patience on the condition of the road in the last few years, said the new contractors will soon mobilise to site to begin work on the road.