Bellview crash site: Arcade remains in ruins

Seventeen years after Bellview Airline crased at Lisa, a one quiet community in Ifo local government area of Ogun state, HAKEEM ADEGBENRO who was recently at the community on assessment tour of the socio-economic development of the place so far reports about the ruins and deplorable state of the arcade built in honour of the victims.

Lisa, a relatively unknown community in Ifo local government area of Ogun state, became the cynosure of all eyes when on the 22nd October 2005, a Boeing 737-200 aircraft, Flight 210 operated by Bellview Airlines crashed in the town, killing all the 117 passengers on board the aircraft.

Among those killed by the ill-fated scheduled passenger flight from Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos en route Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja include, the former postmaster general of Nigeria, Mallam Argungu Abubakar; director of Research and Documentation, Nigerian Press Council, Mr Omang Ojang; ECOWAS director of Finance in Nigeria (a Ghanian), Mr Emmanuel Quaye; former managing director of defunct Peoples Bank, Mrs. Maria Sokenu and a traditional ruler of Daddare, Obi local government area of Nasarawa state, who doubles as chairman, Board of Directors of the National Programme on Immunisation, Usman Umar and others, including the six flight crew members.

After the crash, in response to the national outcry of pain and anguish, a Memorial Arcade and Garden with an access road was put in place to mourn the departed as a memorial for the sake of remembering the victims.

However, seventeen years after the disaster, nothing has been done to uplift the infrastructure and condition of the town regardless of government’s previous yearly fanfare to mark the anniversaries of that crash.

When Blueprint correspondent visited the town on a day which co-incidence with the Community Day celebration of the town, the deplorable condition of the 10.5kilometre assess road provided after the crash is nothing to write home about as a journey of just 20 minutes from Sango to the place became almost two hours, as the Asphalt driveway was no longer available due to lack of maintenance and age which was worsened by the rain season.

The surest means of transportation to the site remains the motorcycle, popularly known as ‘Okada’. To that extent, the motorcyclists have somewhat utilised the deplorable conditions to exploit commuters and as the sayings goes ‘A beggar has no choice’, but to pay and get to one’s destination or get stranded.

At the arcade and memorial built in memories of the departed, it was an eyesore to the extent that even the dead would be cringing at the level of neglect by the governments as the arcade has been left in ruins for several years.

Community efforts

Speaking with Blueprint correspondent, the Olu of Lisa, Oba Najeem Oladele Odugbemi lamented the neglect the Memorial Arcade has suffered in the hands of previous state and federal governments. He therefore appealed to the present administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun not to renege in its promise to resuscitate the moribund arcade and the reconstruction of the road leading to Lisa community.

He revealed that since former President Olusegun Obasanjo left office in 2007, the place has been experiencing neglect. He said throughout the tenure of Amosun, several efforts were made through the Ministry of Tourism, but nothing happened.

He added that as traditional ruler of the town, he has had to facilitate several developmental projects single-handedly when it seems as though the town has been forgotten and left to its fate as it is common with several memorials that adorn the length and breath of the country.

Oba Odugbemi said it took the intervention of the community to make available a school, police post, health center, electricity and other social amenities hitherto promised by the government which hasn’t seen the light of the day.

He however said he would continue to make his people happy by providing the basic infrastructure to the community, saying that all the projects so far executed in Lisa are for the benefit of the people.

State government promise

But speaking at the Community Day celebration recently, the commissioner for culture and tourism, Hon Adijat Oladapo Adeleye, noted that the Prince Dapo Abiodun-led administration in the state feels the pain of the residents in the area of infrastructural development, assuring them of urgent intervention from the state government as soon as possible.

She hinted that the state government plans to engage the services of a private organisation to resuscitate the moribund Memorial Arcade in Lisa.

She said that it was regrettable that such a money spinning tourist centre would be neglected by previous administrations in the state, adding that if the edifice had been witnessing regular maintenance, the memorial arcade would not have been left to rot the way it is.     

She also expressed displeasure at the deplorable state of road leading to the town from Ijoko – Oyero- Oluke – Lisa axis which was constructed in 2005 after the Plane crash, while assuring the residents of the area that the state government would soon reconstruct the road  to promote commercial activities and make life more meaningful to the entire communities.                                         

She however urged members of the Community Development Associations in Lisa to complement the efforts of the state government in infrastructural development since government alone cannot provide all the basic amenities to its citizen.                                                   

The chairperson of Ifo local government, Mrs  Kikelomo Delano commended the monarch for the infrastructural development in Lisa through his personal efforts in turning around the community. She eulogised him as the pillar of Lisa kingdom.                                   

She however assured the community of the presence of the local government even within the limited resources available to the council.

Conclusively, as the country celebrates the 17th year memorial of the falling heroes on the 22nd October and the 6nd Independence Day on October 1st, 2022 with the National Anthem renting the air and with the call to ensure that the labour of our heroes past should not be in vain, one hopes that government at all levels would do what is right by building a nation where peace and justice shall reign. It is also hoped that the long abandoned arcade would be revisited by the government, at least, for the sake of the departed.