By Oluwatomisin Amokeoja
Not less than 10 communities in Magboro, Obafemi Owode Local Government, Ogun State are set to boycott Saturday Local Government elections.
The leadership of these communities under the aegis of Joint Community Development Associations said in a statement their action was in protest against the activities of sand dredgers in their communities.
According to the statement, signed by all the chairmen of the CDAs, the dredgers have damaged the only road that connects the whole communities to the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
The CDAs are Gaun, New Generation Estate, Peace Garden Estate, Teachers Land, Abule-Oko Unity Estate, Araromi, Pathfinders, Ifesowapo and Glory Land Estate.
The statement noted tthe popular Cele-Oke-Ayo Road, which connects all the communities had been damaged by the heavy trucks of sand dredgers that ply the place everyday and night.
Sometime last year one Capital Waves Nigeria Limited and Teejay/Chinese Dredging Companies moved to Ogun River, Gaun town for dredging activities.
According to the statement, over 100 trucks now ply the road everyday and night, causing serious environmental impact and noise pollution in the community.
“Currently the road is in deplorable condition. We cannot drive our cars anymore because of bad road. A few residents who still manage to drive, spend a lot of money to repair their vehicles. Our wives and children have resorted to trekking now because commercial motorcyclists have stopped plying the road,” the statement reads in part.
Speaking on behalf of the joint CDAs, the Chairman of Abule Oko Development Association (CAC/IT/N0140683), Mr. Kunle Adebanjo, said the residents are boycotting the elections to register displeasure with the condition of the road and also to notify the government about the insensitivity of the dredging *companies* to the plight of the peaceful residents.
He said the road had always been maintained by the joint CDAs for many years until the dredgers came in.
He explained an agreement was reached between the dredgers, the trucks drivers and the communities that the maintenance of the road would be carried out under Corporate Social Responsibility scheme but that the companies had failed to fulfil its own part of the agreement.
However, the CDAs decided to repair the road a few weeks ago, following the neglect by the sand dredgers but the effort was resisted by the companies.
“The Ibafo Police Division invited our members for a dialogue when the dredgers threatened the residents,”Adebanjo noted.
The police advised the two parties to meet with the traditional ruler to resolve the issue and forward the resolution to the division, which had since been done.
It took the intervention of the traditional ruler, the Olu of Gaun, Oba Sunmonu Seidu to maintain peace between the CDAs and the dredgers.
At the peace meeting, the monarch directed the companies to repair the road but up till now nothing tangible had been done to put the road in good shape.
However, the representative of the truck drivers, Alhaji Waheed Balogun has said that his association would discuss with the dredgers on how to fix the road.
He said during the peace meeting that the truck drivers also faced big problem on the road and that they could stop doing business with the dredgers if it would not join the CDAs to repair the bad road.
While reacting to the protest by the residents, the representative of the dredgers who simply identified himself as Alfa said that he would inform his Managing Director on how to fix the road while also adding that the companies had dropped some loads of hardcore on the bad *portion* of the road.