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Kwara, community at odds over waterfalls road project

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Owa-Onire community in the Ile-Ire district of the Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State has appealed to Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq to discard plans to construct a 21-kilometre road leading to the Owu waterfalls in the community, saying the move is wasteful.

In a statement by the Concerned Indigenes of Owa Onire Community which was jointly signed by its coordinator, Mr. Adebola Ogunbiyi and spokesperson, Sunday Akanbi, the people advised the government to instead complete an initial route to the waterfall, started in 2008 by former Governor Bukola Saraki.

Their call came barely three days after the State Executive Council approved a fresh contract for the construction of a 21-kilometre road which leads to Owu Falls road, with its first phase planned to gulp over N3.9 billion.

According to the people, the initial contract, started by the Saraki administration is already 20 per cent completed and as such should be executed to completion rather than initiating a fresh contract on another route for the same purpose.

The group added that the initial contractor, “Bulletine Construction Company Nigeria Limited has worked and asphalted three-kilometre of the 15-kilometre Owu-falls road project from Iwo/Sabaja-Isin-Oba-Isin-Owa-Onire-Owu-falls.

“Only three kilometres out of the 15km road stretch (representing only 20 per cent) from Iwo/Sabaja-Isin to Oba-Isin was tarred while the remaining 12 km from Oba-Isin-Owa-Onire-Owu falls was only opened up to the foot of the waterfall and eventually abandoned since 2010 after millions of naira had been committed to the project”, the group stated.

It stressed that the state government was deceived into awarding another contract by some politicians they described it labelled as being “selfish”.

“In terms of distance, the remaining 12-km road is shorter than the fresh 21-km road with a difference of 9km. This 12-km road from Owa-Onire leads right to the foot of the falls without one having to alight from a vehicle and trek a certain hilly distance, unlike the other road project.

“Not less than 10 communities along this 12km linear road will have the road run through them and therefore benefit directly.

They are: Ijara-Isin, Iji-Isin, Owu-lsin, Sabaja-Isin, Oba-Isin and Owa-Onire or serve indirectly lwo-Isin, Kudu Owode, Pamo-lsin, Odo-Ore and this is expected to prompt swift growth for their social-economic development.

“The geophysical nature of the 12km 0ba-Isin-Owa-Onire Owu-Falls road makes it less hilly thereby making its construction less laborious unlike the other road”, the group further posited.

Continuing, it maintained that “In terms of cost of construction, one need no soothsayer to know that the short distance of 12km Oba-Isin-Owa-Onire-Owu-Falls road with easy geophysical nature will certainly have its cost of construction reduced to the barest minimum as compared to a longer 21-km road with more mountainous hilly terrain.

“More glaring is the fact that the 12km Oba-Isin-Owa-Onire-Owu-Falls road has been in use and is currently still in use by tourists to visit the great Water Falls”.

The statement also reminded Governor AbdulRazaq of his promise on Sunday, 15 December 2019 to complete the abandoned 15km road.

“We see this as very unfair and we abhor it. In view of all the above-highlighted reasons, Owa-Onire Community is hereby appealing to Governor AbdulRazaq and the innermost conscience of the state government to revisit the issue of the Owu-Falls road construction project with a view to right the wrongs by also awarding the construction and completion of this 12km Oba-Isin-Owa-Onire-Owu-Falls road to a serious and competent contractor that will ensure its completion with fiat to avoid a repeat of the abandonment it suffered during the former Governor Bukola Saraki administration.

Arewa PUNCH recalls that the Owu Falls is the highest waterfall in West Africa measuring 120 metres above sea level and cascading 330 feet down an escarpment a major boost for tourism in not just the state but in Nigeria and West African subregion

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