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Apete: We Are Going Through Hell - Residents
Apete, an emerging new community in the city of Ibadan, has been in the eye of the storm since last year when it was ravaged by flood. Ebenezer Adurokiya, who was there last Wednesday, scooped on the challenges the people are facing in recent times.
One could see a sea of heads clustering, chirping, screaming, pushing amid shuffling of legs on a long seemingly endless queue all in a bid to cross over a strait makeshift wooden bridge.
Intermittently like a working tool, one of the sea of heads dropped into the brownish furious river which sounded toooom! to the uproarious delight and, perhaps, displeasure of some colleagues-in-fate under the seige of the vindictive goddess of Apete River.
These and more are what an unsuspecting sojourner to Apete, one of the fastest developing communities, in the city of Ibadan will behold in recent times, owing to flooding activities that have led to the cutting off of the area from the main city.
From Saturday July 14, when a portion of a vital link bridge collapsed for the second time, in less than a year, life has not remained the same for residents of the area, largely populated by students of The Polytechnic, Ibadan.
It has been tales of sorrow and tears. In crossing over to either side of the divide, two options were available: either to make use of a jetty by the left side of the river or the shaky wooden pedestrian bridge by the right with the assistance of men of Youth Transformation Movement (YTM) who were in branded green jacket. The makeshift wooden bridge constructed for pedestrians was submerged in the flood of last weekend.
But as of midday on Wednesday, it was being reconstructed to ease the people’s suffering. As a result, wooden jetties owned by some fishermen, who were plying their trade at the Eleyele River, were seen cashing in on the dilemma of forlorn residents who have been subjected to an imaginary school of isolation.
So, simultaneously, a banana queue of sort emerged behind the very few jetties available for use. With valuable hours being wasted on the line, a struggle of survival of the fittest ensued among the waiting passengers under a malevolent heat of the sun.
However, before last weekend’s flooding, which put paid to the new bridge under construction by a local contractor, residents, who have automobiles and work downtown, have been parking their cars at the threshold of the bridge and then walk on foot across the makeshift bridge to the community. Owners were made to part with some money by people who volunteered to watch over the cars and buses. Some residents have allegedly lost their cars to thieves in the process.
It may be right to assume that the goddess of the Apete River, if there is any, has done her worst. Baale of the town, Chief Alade Adekola, taking up the toga of tradition, opined that the failed contractor, whose contract was revoked this week by the Senator Abiola Ajimobi-led government, suffered from inexperience, besides his alleged refusal to appease the river goddess, Oluweri.
“Without the rituals, they cannot construct the bridge successfully. They have realised that already. If they had done the normal rituals before they started the construction, what happened last weekend would not have happened. The river goddess would not have been angry. River goddesses are also human beings who live under the river. Oluweri was also angry that they brought an incompetent construction company to execute the project. The government unjustly chased away the initial company that constructed the emergency bridge last year,” he claimed.
According to the septuagenerian, the Chinese, who should have been given the contract, “know the rituals to do. The frustrated local contractor just came and did no ritual; no wonder he was unsuccessful,” he stated.
Life as of 11.00 a.m, on Wednesday, had become unbearable for most residents of Apete. Although with schools rounding off their academic sessions, young boys and girls, who should be in school, were made to sit at home by their parents who would not want to risk their lives crossing the raging river. Some were even seen rading the woods near the river banks.
Interestingly, as wide as the surface of the river has become, the old bridge as well as the emergency one hurriedly constructed after last August 26 flood, has become isolated right in the middle of the river. The cost of building an ideal bridge across the river, according to experts, will definitely cost more fortunes.
Mr Femi Smith, a road construction engineer from Ogun State, who resides in Apete, told Saturday Tribune that the Oyo State government must, by now, be licking its wounds for awarding such a strategic contract to an qualified and incompetent individual.
“You don’t give a contract to people who have no knowledge of the job. We were told that a lawyer was the one handling the contract that has now being revoked. How can you give a bridge construction project to a lawyer? Go and see the perfect job a construction company has been doing in Lagos? A lawyer cannot supervise such a job. It’s not all about dolling out money to workers after a day’s job. They should get the right man to do the job. Even the makshift wooden pedestrian bridge should not be mounted near the bridged being worked on.
It’s wrong. Let the government also set up a task force to monitor its projects,” he advised.
A ride round the community, which evidently deserves a local government of its own, revealed much of hunger, angst and frustrations as a result of lack of social amenities particularly the collapsed bridge. If there is a master plan for the development of Apete before now, it probably may have been jettisoned, given the level of decadence and disorderliness observed in the area, which the Baale, Chief Adekola, said was founded by one Oguntayo over a 100 years ago.
From the point of entry at Ijokodo before overviewing the Apete River are potholes in the middle of the narrow road. From the river, greater magnitude of unimaginable deep gullies that look as if they were dug deliberately by human beings, splash the road. This, according to residents, have been responsible for the present high cost of living in the town. Passengers pay as much as N200 and N300 on taxis and buses as well as motorbikes to manouvre their way through Ologuneru to Sango areas of Ibadan.
Alhaja Halimat Abdulahi, a pepper seller, who has relocated close to the collapsed bridge to sell her wares, told Saturday Tribune that “an Okada rider to Sango costs N300 instead of the N70 that was being charged before now.” According to her, patronage is dull and things are expensive, adding that “if they reconstruct this bridge very well, the cost of living will come down. Although we still sell our tomatoes and fresh pepper at N50 per measure, we have reduced the quantity. It used to be more than this. Frowning at the state of rot and neglect in the community, Alhaja Abdulahi said that Apete has been abandoned to darkness, lack of potable water and bad roads.
Notable also in the community are the presence of public schools as well as private ones like Lifeforte International Schools, a farm settlement at Ido camp, among others, which should ordinarily attract the attention of private investors who could help to develop the entire town.
Another resident, Mr Olamide Oladimeji, said that people were unable to go to their places of work. “I work as a tiler at Ijokodo, but I’ve been unable to go there since the collapse of the makeshift bridge. Since I don’t want to die now, I won’t attempt caneoing across the tide. I have parents, wife and children. The government should help us fix it quickly. May God help Ajimobi,” he said.
Meanwhile, Saturday Tribune, during its ride round the town, noticed that three routes namely: Apete-Ologuneru Road, Apete-Ido Camp Road, Apete-Arola Road and Apete-Ajibode Road, besides the major one linking Ijokodo, are available for residents to make use of, but for their very bad state. While the Apete-Ijokodo route is the shortest route to Sango, Eleyele and other parts of the city, the other three untarred routes are torturously bad and long. One of the routes, Apete-Oluguneru, is said not to be an approved road because it is located under high tension cables from Kainji.
However, as if to worsen the already bad situation, an error of judgment on the part of the Oyo State government is playing out. It is believed that the government should not have embarked on the construction of Apete-Ajibode Road bridge simultaneously with that of the Apete River, in order to provide alternative route for residents of the town.
It was also observed that the ongoing work at the Apete-Ajibode Road may not stand the test of time, as substandard materials and wrong approach are being applied. The magnitude of water flowing down the drainage system being newly constructed with mere cement blocks instead of concrete will make a mockery of the hard but perfunctory work going on there.
As of today, residents, who must drive in and out of the town, are making do with the potholes-ridden Apete-Arola Road and Apete-Ologuneru Road which may be conducive for men of the underworld to operate.
“The road linking Apete and Ologuneru is dangerous, as armed robbers usually rob there.
Robbers still raided three days ago on that route, Mrs Ebunoluwa Ogundele, a trader in Aleshinloye market, who complained over the harrowing time her family has been going through, told Saturday Tribune. She added that the cost of living has skyrocketed in the town.
“I spend close to N1, 000 to and from market daily. I take my kids to school through Lifeforte.
Our roads are bad. They should help us repair the roads quickly,” she affirmed.
Although heavily populated by The Polytechnic, Ibadan students, artisans and civil servants from the polytechnic, University of Ibadan and private firms, including media outfits, all have houses erected in Apete. Noticeable as major businesses are okada riding by mostly sojourners from Iseyin, according to the Baale. Cement block industries and container shops, where bags of cement are sold, also dot every nook and cranny of the town.
Saturday Tribune noticed that despite the highflying business potentials in the community of a population of about 1.5 million, no branch of any bank could be sighted there. Residents have to go as far as The Polytechnic, Ibadan campus before they can access banking services.
A ramshackle health centre, managed by the Ido Local Government, stands conspicuously obscure near the centre of the major road in the community. An okada rider, who piloted Saturday Tribune round the town, Mr. Oduola Aderemi, said drugs, if available, were sold at exorbitant prices. Some pregnant women were seen sitting in front of the eyesore of a health centre waiting to be attended to.
Mr. Oduola Aderemi, who bemoaned the lack of social amenities in the town, opined that government had not shown much capability in handling the ugly situation in the town. “Lack of social amenities in Apete is a general phenomenon. It’s not strange. Students of poly schools residing in Apete are no longer able to go to school. We are managing; I really have nowhere to go. We find it very difficult to move to our places of work since the local contractors began their wishy-washy work on both Ajibode and Ijokodo roads and bridges,” he lamented.
Speaking on how they have been coping with the collapsed bridge as of Wednesday morning, residents, most of whom have turned the site into a Mecca of sort, expressed their frustrations and hard times since last year.
A smoked fish seller, who has relocated to the river bank, Mrs Kuburat Isiaka, lamented low patronage. “Customers are not patronising us because there is no money. Three smoked fish of average size is now sold for N200. Before now, we sold it for N100. Big ones are sold for N250. It is expensive bringing your goods through the canoe into Apete. It is N50 per passenger and luggage, depending on the size. They need to quickly help us fix the bridge before we die of hunger,” she said. She called on the government to fix the roads in Apete, give them potable water and good power supply once and for all.
To Silas Nwankwo and Godday Ehirim from Anambra and Edo states, who trade in Fanmilk products, business has been very bad. “In Apete, we don’t have good water to drink. We buy pure water to drink. We use well water. Our roads are narrow and full of potholes. We are not happy over the collapsed bridge also. Can’t they help us?” Ehirim lamented.
A Junior Secondary School student of United Secondary School at Ijokodo, Oladepo Taoheeb, could not hide his feelings. Oladepo, who should be going to school in preparation for his junior NECO exam, said he had been trapped in Apete, as he has phobia for rivers. “We have been unable to go to school since last weekend’s flooding. The school is still operating. I can’t board canoe across the river. I feel dizzy when I attempt it. I don’t have N300 to pay my fare to Ajibode to attend school. So, it means I’ll still be sitting at home until respite comes our way,” he stated.
It is obviously not all stories of woes in Apete. Social life, according to Baale of Apete, is upbeat in the cosy community with luscious vegetation. The presence of students from UI and The Polytechnic Ibadan is a great blessing to lovers of business and enjoyment. In fact, inscribed on the lintel of the Baale’s house is “Chief Adekola, Ile oni Faaji.” So, it is common to see ladies of different shapes and sizes, often in semi-nude attires, dotting every nook and cranny of the community.
Although the Baale complained over the lack of good roads, electricity supply, incessant injuries sustained from okada accidents, a denied airport in the past among other issues, he, however, said that the enjoyment obtainable in Apete was incomparable to what was found abroad.
“The enjoyment in Apete is inexistent abroad. See those okada riders, they won’t return to their villages again because of enjoyment,” he said. Arguing that every lady is a potential sex partner whether married or not, the Baale said there was no magun in Apete because it is a taboo in the town. “If you find one, it must be from an sojourner. We indigenes must not try it. The repercussion is grave. From time immemoriam, adultery has existed. Sex is an act from two consenting adults so, don’t see it as anything bad,” the Baale boasted amid laughter.
In spite of all these, Apete is a town of great potentials waiting to be tapped by the Oyo State government. The expanse of agrarian land, the wealths of the river, the human capacity from different nations and walks of life are resources awaiting the attention of a working government which is eager to open up the town through good road network .