Residents and motorists in the Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, have faulted the construction of an arch on the Arepo Road and the prevention of motorists from plying the road to link Beachland Estate and other estates in the town.
They expressed their displeasure over the development on the road, claiming that the arch which was constructed by the Journalist Estate Residents Development Association (JERDA) was hindering them from gaining access to their homes and estates.
According to the residents, determining movements on the road that had existed for years before owners and occupants of buildings in JERDA began to occupy their portion, is the aim of the journalist estate.
Aside from preventing motorists, the residents claimed that JERDA had also permanently denied access to commercial motorcycle operators, who provide transport services to residents.
The residents noted that the JERDA executive’s actions were affecting them and that they do not expect a community that was occupied by elites and intellectuals to act with disregard to the interests of other residents of the town.
Through a statement signed and released on Monday by the Chairman of Beachland Estate Residents Association (BERA) in Arepo, Teyilase Atalabi, they claimed that there was no law backing JERDA’s actions.
Atalabi said: “The ancestral community road was tarred by the government of Colonel Daniel Akintonde in 1993. We passed through that road to purchase our properties. The JERDA residents met the road there, and bought parcels of land to the right and left of the road. The natives who sold the land to them are still alive, hail and hearty and confirm this position.
“Before the area was developed, the road was already on the gazetted map of OPIC excision and labelled as Beachland Ebute Road. Trouble started when JERDA constructed a barricade along the road, labelled the public road a private one, and assumed illegal jurisdiction over public property”.
“JERDA officials would always say that it is just an arch, it is not disturbing anybody. But that is far from reality. The arch, its adjoining security outpost, and the very bold inscription across the road scream “private property, no entry”. We have had to struggle intermittently with JERDA as they assume illegal jurisdiction as to who can pass and when they can pass through that section of the road.
“Thoroughfare to Ebute by non-residents and sometimes, even residents into Ebute, is at the whims and caprices of the agents of JERDA. Permanently, bikes are not allowed to pass through that portion of the public road: There is no enabling law for this, other than the pleasure of JERDA. Residents returning home late are often hindered. Visitors are sometimes turned back.
“It was bad enough that fire-fighting equipment from The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the fire department coming to Ebute Area to control fire-outbreak at the pipeline could not pass during an emergency due to the height of the arch”.
Atalabi explained that the allegations leveled against the Olu of Arepo, Oba Solomon Atanda by JERDA amount to blackmail and do not represent his contribution to restoring peace and harmony to communities.
According to him, the traditional ruler had often mediated between both communities and had often adopted several strategies including appealing for government’s intervention to achieve a lasting resolution on the face-off over road access.
He noted that the monarch, during some of the engagements, had advised that “Nobody should have anything doing on the road henceforth “ until the completion of the construction work, which was misconstrued to be a support to BERA and the Community”.
“Equally, it’s on record that the Ogun State government has sent representatives from the three ministries to mediate on the matter; the Board of Trustees and the Police have all played roles to make peace by ordering that there should be no more interference with the road structure until its completion. But the JERDA people are hell-bent on installing an arch which will ultimately lead to the erection of bars and gates. This is what we stridently opposed”, he stated.