By Kingsley Omoyeni
Reducing the distance between people, markets, services and knowledge – or simply ‘getting people connected’ – is a great part of what economic growth is all about.
Although virtual connectivity has become increasingly important today with the emergence of new communication avenues, a good and reliable transport network remains vital. There is a very strong positive correlation between a country’s economic development and the quality of its road network. The Aregbesola administration has nevertheless made significant efforts to improve the road situation as seen in the increased amounts allocated to the sector over the past few years.
In the quest for the social economic development of an area especially in the 20th century, good road network play a very significant role in the process of economically developming of any society that is serious and eager to achieve any meaningful growth.
Apart from the fact that good roads speed up the social economic development of an area, it also goes a long way in adding beauty to the enviroment thereby attracting would be investors to that particular area.
It interesting to know that the Aregbesola administration upon taking the mantle of leadership made it clear to whoever cared to listen that his administration was ready to turn the the state of Osun into a massive construction sight, a promise which he has kept and is still continuing in that stead.
The depth of commitment of the present administration to road transformation is evident in the fact that Osun is now a massive road construction site. The present government is constructing, reconstructing and rehabilitating roads all over the state.
As the prices of crude oil continue to drop coupled with glut of oil in the global oil market, the attention of most countries who had in the past depended on oil for their major income are gradually drifting towards agriculture as the only panacea to their economic downturn.
Nigeria being a major oil producing nation in the world had also hitherto depended on oil for a large chunk of its foreign exchange thereby neglecting the agric sector for many years.
During those years of neglect, a lot of rural roads that leads to farmlands which were supposed to be the major source of income for the country had been neglected thereby leaving a lot of those roads in a state of disrepair and leaving a lot of the rural areas where we have large farmlands inaccessible.
The nation is going through recession and it has become very obvious that the only way out of the current economic quagmire is for all and sundary to go back and embrace farming in a massive and commercial proportion.
If any one wants to go into farming in massive and commercial manner, then the only way to go is to face the rural areas where you can find large espance of land to farm in large quantities.
For a nation or state to get into farming in large proportion, rural farmers needs to be encouraged in a lot of ways and one of such ways is by making their roads good and accessible to allow them go to farms and at the same time transport their farm produce to the various markets around them.
The Osun Rural Access and Mobility Project, Osun RAMP can then be described as a project envisioned at the inception to get the nation out of the current economic downturn it is now esperiencing going by the huge impact the activities of RAMP has had on rural communities through the construction and rehabilitation of roads.
The Rural Access and Mobility Project is a world bank and French Development Agency credit financed project in support of the implementation of the federal government of Nigeria’s rural travel and transport policy.
The state of Osun being an agrarian state is made up of many rural areas with vast farmland which needs accessible roads to allow the farmers in such communities to transport their farm produce to nearby markets for sale.
It was therefore a huge respite to the government and the people of Osun when the state was chosen as one of the lucky states to benefit from the RAMP intervention through the World bank and the French Development Agency in the construction and rehabilitation of rural roads across the state so as to assist farmers in the transportation of their goods to the cities thereby boosting the economy of the state through farming.
The project in Osun is being implemented and supervised by the State Project Implementation Unit(SPIU) and through its activities the project have had a wider impact on the affected communities by providing accessibility which has brought livelihoods to the poor and at the same time boosted the economy of the state.
Osun RAMP met a lot of the rural roads in a state of disrepair, but the story has changed significantly today as a lot of the roads are now wearing a look and farmers and traders alike are now esperiencing boom in their activities as they now find it much easier to get to their farms.
Commercial activities in many of the said communities has now doubled because their markets are now flooded with varieties of farm produce on every market days.
A lot of communities which had formerly been cut off by rivers from major markets now have access to the markets because Osun RAMP have succeeded in constructing bridges that will stand the test of time for them.
Some of the communities in Osun where river crossings or bridges where constructed include: Elewonta in Iwo, Olomu stream in Irewole local government, Iree Polytechnic road in Boripe, Olukesi farm – Oju eri in Boluwaduro local government, Ipon Stream in Odo-Otin, Odo Owere in Ede north local government, Gbalefe road, Modakeke in Ife east,as well as Oke-Aho stream located at Sekona in Ife north local government.
Others are: Faweri river in Ife south local government, Ogbaagba ogudu, Odo Oroki in Obokun local government, Opa bridge in Odunrin via Ipetumodu, Oyile River in Ilasetown, Oyi Adunni in Oke-Ila among others.
The impact of the RAMP intervention on rural roads in Osun can not be overemphasised as most of the rural dwellers are are now more happy going by the fact that they are now able to do what they know how to do best with much ease.
Gone are the days when they have to trek long distances of unmotorable roads before they get their farms, transporting their produce to the market is now much easier and the various rural markets are now much more busy than it used to be simply because a lot of farmers can now bring their goods to the market.
Some traders spoken to on some rural market days across the state testified to the fact that they now make brisk buisness as a result of the roads leading to their various markets now in good condition, saying that they now get a lot of patronage from people leaving in urban centers.
Food and beverage vendors in the communities now make more money as more people now visit the rural areas as a result of good roads, urban dwellers are now able to take their cars to their rural communities without the fear that bad roads may cause a breakdownof their cars.
Lumbering activities in most of the rural communities have also increased tremendously because their lorries no longer get stocked in mud during rainy season.
New private schools as well as petrol filling stations are now springing up on a daily basis in most of the rural communities, this is because the roads are now motorable ,the volume of cars plying the roads are now more than it used to be. Good roads as they say, truly aid the rapid development of an area.
Through the intervention of RAMP in Osun most rural roads are now accessible in the state, agricultural activities have now increased, commercial activities in the rural areas is on a high rise, farmers and rural traders are smilling to the bank and the economy of Osun is being boosted.
Kingsley Omoyeni writes from Osun State Ministry of Information.