Denro-Ishashi: Ogun-Lagos border community of sorrows, tears, blood

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Crater-filled Denro-Ishashi road
It is a sorry sight – broken roads, large potholes filled with stagnant muddy water, dusty shop corners – very depressing ambience.
Many shops are under lock and key – and presumably so for quite a while. Thick dust covers most stalls and shop entrances. The environment looks deserted this Monday morning, save for a few residents idling away in front of their houses and the public primary school with its gate thrown open.
This is the current state of the Denro-Ishashi road located in Isheri / Akute / Ajuwon Local Council Development Area in Ogun State.
This road, which used to be an access route from the satellite towns in Ogun State to Ojodu-Berger in Lagos State, was constructed during the administration of Otunba Gbenga Daniel. However, it has suffered steady deterioration in the last decade or so owing to the swampy topography, menace of heavy duty vehicles and total lack of maintenance.
This has resulted in loss of revenue for many business owners including schools, churches and even home owners as many have had to abandon their homes for more accessible locations. Many tenants in the community have also had to move away to rent accommodation in other areas, albeit more expensive.
Besides the deplorable state of roads, the Denro-Ishashi community has also suffered the problem of practically nonexistent power supply. This has caused many businesses to close shop.
Alhaja Ramot Balogun  used to run a thriving frozen foods business from her home along at the Denro-Ishashi road but had to close down when the power issue became worse.
“We moved here about 20 years ago when we moved from Lagos and built our house here. In 2006, I started selling frozen chicken, Turkey and fish and was expanding but with the worsening state of roads and the electricity issue, I had to move my business elsewhere,” she told Morning Mail.
“My customers constantly complained about the bad roads. On top of that, I would run my generator from 8am when I opened till 9pm at night. How much profit do I make on the things I’m selling? What if I was renting a shop? It didn’t make sense “, she lamented.
Although, the power situation has slightly improved, there is still a lot to be done. “Until just a few months ago, we were in serious darkness in this area. For some months, we never saw electricity but the distribution company was sending bills regularly. They said something was wrong with our transformer and that they didn’t have the faulty component.
“They even had the audacity to send some of their officials to enforce payment. That was when the youths got mad and threatened to attack them. It took the intervention of some landlords in the area who had to contact the authorities and power. Now, we have light for about six hours a day “, explained Mr. Opeyemi Popoola, a businessman.
Transporters are not left out of the situation as many have suffered loss of vehicles due to the terrible strain many vehicles have been put through. Emeka Chekwube invested in an 18-seater bus run the Akute-Berger route after collecting his severance package from a financial institution in Lagos.
According to him, the vehicle was grounded within six months. “I recorded more losses than gains through constantly having to repair the bus. Today, the bus is grounded in my compound”, he lamented.
Chekwube’s bus is not the only vehicle grounded by the bad road. Commercial buses hardly ply the Akute-Denro road to Berger anymore leading to increased hardship for residents as many now opt for commercial motor cycle (okada) rides or walking long distances.
“These days, we are left with very rickety buses probably because the drivers live around here. My two SUVs have been condemned because of the bad roads so I now have to risk my life patronising okadas (commercial bicycles)”, said Mr. Sani Michael, an engineer.
Others choose to pass alternative (most times, longer) routes to get to their destinations.
There has been a constant outcry to the government but all appeals seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Nevertheless, in February this year, the road was graded by the newly created Isheri / Akute / Ajuwon LCDA.
However, the road is back to its worn-out state.
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According to the LCDA chairman, Hon. Chief Olubode Fakunle, the case of the Ishashi-Denro-Akute road is quite unfortunate.  “There was no road there before. It was when I was campaigning in 2002  / 2003 that my attention was drawn to the area and I told the then governor, Olusegun Osoba that a road in that area would open up the place as it would be a link between Lagos and Ogun states. He sent surveyors who came to inspect the place but the contract wasn’t awarded.
“When the government of Otunba Gbenga Daniel came into power, the contract was awarded to an electrical engineer, Kotco. The road did not last up to a year. In fact, that bridge at Oluwakemi had to be done three times because it kept sinking”, he revealed.
Since his assumption of office, the LCDA  chairman said he had tried to make a case for the road but it had so far been unsuccessful.
 “When we told the Ministry of Works to come and repair the road and they came to see it, they said the road needs total reconstruction hence cannot come under repair.
“The same thing when the governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun told all LCDAs to nominate five roads each to be repaired, I put that Denro-Ishashi road and it was disqualified by the World Bank because they are the ones giving the loan for rural roads.
“At the LCDA level, we are doing our bit to alleviate the suffering of the people by upgrading the schools and health centres as well as training our youths free of charge; but that road is not within our purview”, he explained.
With the government focusing on converting the Berger-Yakoyo-Alagbole road (another access road from Ogun State to Lagos) into six lanes; the Denro-Ishashi community might have to wait a bit longer.

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