On October 11, 2020, when Osun state Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, presented budget for year 2021, he disclosed that plans have been concluded to construct a flyover at the popular Olaiya junction in Osogbo, the state capital.
This has however generated reactions has many people are of the opinion that the spot does not need flyover considering the amount the project will gulp and the free-flow of vehicles already in place in the area.
First to kick against the project is a group, Transparency and Accountability Group (TAG). A statement by the spokesperson of the group, Ayodeji Ologun, described the project as “overkill and a waste of State funds at best.”
Ologun who is a member of the panel of enquiry on police brutality, representing the EndSARS protesters in the state, demanded immediate stoppage of plans to construct a flyover at the Olaiya intersection, saying the action will amount to a “waste of the state’s scarce resources.”
Reasons adduced by the activist are that Olaiya Intersection is still at an excellent level of service, and by simple principles of traffic engineering, a road intersection is considered incapable of handling its expected amount of traffic if the vehicle density at that intersection at a given time, exceeds permissible limits.
“Having carefully observed the current level of service of the Olaiya intersection, we can say from a professional point of view that constructing a flyover is an overkill and a waste of State funds at best.
“Reported accidents at the Olaiya Intersection are due to human errors. We are convinced that officials of the State Government under Alh. Gboyega Oyetola are aware that design capacity of a road notwithstanding, human errors still have limitless capacity to cause fatalities.
“The reported accidents at Olaiya intersection have been due to impatience of drivers, racing to beat traffic signal time on one hand, and the periodic dysfunctionality of the traffic signal system at the intersection, on the other hand. Accidents at this intersection can be avoided if traffic rules are enforced strictly and the traffic signals made to function optimally.
“Details of the Award of this project are shrouded in secrecy. The State’s Public Procurement Law 2015 makes certain provisions for Bidding and Award of projects in the State. Section 33(2) of this law particularly states that “In the case of goods, works and services valued under InternationalCompetitive Bidding, the invitation for bids shall be advertised in at least two national newspapers, one relevant internationallyrecognized newspaper, the official website of the procuring entity, the Agency and the State Procurement Journal not less than six weeksbefore the deadline for submissionof the bids for the goods, works andservices.
“The construction of the Olaiya flyover has not gone through these provisions of the procurement act to ensure transparency, judicious use of funds and competence. We therefore wonder why the State Government is in such a hurry to execute the project when it has not fulfilled all obligations that a contract of such nature must undergo. Our laws cannot be vacated at will even in cases of expediency.
“Olaiya flyover is not an infrastructural priority for the State Government*. We say with absolute clarity that the Olaiya intersection is not an infrastructural priority for the Osun State Government, even if all contractual obligations were met.
“For example, the dualization of Okefia/Rasco/Old Garage road is a more pressing project, the road having served beyond its design capacity. Expansion and reconstruction (dualization possibly) of the Ilesa Garage/Ita Olokan/Oja Oba/Orisumbare road is also a more pressing project that would serve greater purposes than the Olaiya flyover. We could go on and on, mentioning projects of more strategic importance than the Olaiya flyover.
The group however, demand immediate stoppage of the plan, failure of which it will be forced to take legal action against the government.
According to the group, the Osun State government must stop with immediate effect, the plans to construct a flyover at the Olaiya intersection, failure to do which we will be forced to approach a Court of Law to effect this demand.
“The funds meant for construction of the flyover should be mobilised toward construction of other roads of strategic importance to the State. These will include expansion and redesign of the Oke-Fia intersection which should be given utmost importance.
“The traffic laws should be strictly enforced at the Olaiya intersection and the traffic signals be better optimized to include the Green-Amber-Red default design of traffic signals. The intersection is already channelled and an upgrade of the traffic signals will achieve optimal results.
“The State Government must henceforth abide by the provisions of the 2015 procurement law in the award of every project, failing to do which we will be compelled to drag it before a Court of Law.
“We are aware that for political expediency, the State Government may be adamant and decide to forge ahead with this project. We will however not hesitate to seek legal enforcement of these demands. We cannot sit back and allow governance be reduced to construction of white elephant, legacy projects that end up contributing no meaningful gains to the lives of our people.”
In an opposing reaction, the Osogbo United Group in a statement signed by its Chairman, Steering Committee, General Ademola Aderibigbe (retd.), maintained that anyone that opposed to such a useful project is either an enemy of Osogbo or one seeking to undermine the success of Governor Oyetola.
According to the group, calling for the stoppage of the project is not only inimical but retrogressive, anti-growth and ill-conceived.
“The proposed flyover, will among other values help to reduce traffic congestion, decrease the risk of accidents, assist users including motorists save time and fuel and add to the aesthetics of the physical essence of the city.
The group assured the state Governor of its support and the generality of the people concerning the project and appealed to the government to construct more flyovers across the capital city.
Meanwhile, explaining reason for planning to construct the flyover, Oyetola said the Olaiya flyover is not just an iconic project designed for ostentatious purposes, but one of the government’s measures to ensure the safety of citizens’ lives.
According to Oyetola: “The Olaiya flyover is meant to take care of the traffic bottleneck around that intersection. There has been several accidents around there over the years, some of them fatal. So, to prevent the frequency of accident, we are proposing this interchange at the Olaiya intersection.
“Part of our own job is to ensure the security of lives and so we thought it necessary to ensure that those who are coming from Abere for instance can pass through the flyover without necessarily impeding the movement of those plying Alekuwodo and Odi-Olowo lane. It will take a lot of traffic off the regular route and ensure that everybody is able to navigate without causing accidents.
“So, apart from being iconic, it is also an instrument to ensure that there is safety and accidents are reduced to the barest minimum. It is important that we mitigate the possibility of accidents happening at that intersection and that is the purpose of this flyover.
“The project will take about nine to ten months, but it could be completed earlier than that. The length is about 500 metres.
“Why we are doing this is because even though the project is ultimately to the people’s benefit, we have to appraise the impact and see where adjustments are required.
“Before now, we consulted widely to ensure that our people come to terms with and appreciate what we are trying to do. For the mall, we have created an opportunity for customers to access the place through a particular junction. So, at any point in time, the businesses in the mall are running. For the people selling on the corridor, they will still sell anyways because the construction workers will patronise them while work is ongoing. So, they are not the people we are trying to rid from the site; we are talking of motorists.
“This is not the first time we will be interfacing with businesses around that axis. There have been series of meetings with banks and other businesses. I think people are ready for this, the cooperation level is high and we will be monitoring developments along the line in case there are things to adjust to ensure that there are no unnecessary hardships.
“But we actually appeal to our people, and I believe they understand what the government is doing. At the end of the day, it will be of greater benefit to the people”, Oyetola stated.