Work is now in progress on abandoned N200 million road construction project in Edo state — but only after the intervention of BudgIT Tracka.
Tracka is a citizen-driven platform where people irrespective of their location can collaborate, track and give feedback on public projects around them. It seeks to drive value out of the annual budgets, to ensure that allocations result to real development in Nigerian communities.
Sited in Ivbiodohen, Owan west local government area of the state, the N200 million Uzebba-Okagbon Road project is a connecting route to six important villages: Uzebba, Ikpeyan, Okpuje Ivbiodohen, Oah and Okagbon. Its implementation is expected to naturally ease commuting and improve economic ties with neighbouring states.
However, when BudgIt’s Project Tracking Officer (PTO) visited the project site in March 2015 to observe the construction status, it was surprising to see that the site was deserted, and with no visible development in the surrounding communities.
The residents, who are mostly farmers, experience difficulties with conveying their produce from the farm to other locations where they would be turned into financial gain. The consequence is that the farm produce are mostly consumed by locals at a very cheap cost while a large pile of them are rotten and wasted within few days.
BudgIT personnel accompanied the Tracka Field Officer and held an advocacy meeting with residents of Ivbiodohen, who were totally oblivious of the budget provision. In their native language, they were informed about the June 2015 provision of a N200 million access road within the communities. Paper copies of related line items in the budget, with names and contact details of the responsible government officials in charge of the projects, were printed and distributed to them.
The meeting highlighted the roles of elected public officials and encouraged the people to be involved in the budgeting process and their rights to demand government accountability to ensure service delivery.
Upset about the huge allocation and lack of action, they wrote letters to their representative, Honourable Victor Asein, as well as the ministry of works and Adams Oshiomhole, Governor of the state.
The Tracka team also sent letters to the public officials in charge of the project to enquire about the status of the provision and ensure it was captured in the 2016 budget should it not reach completion in 2015. Although both parties got no response from the government concerning, it was brought forward in the 2016 budget for N250 million.
BudgIT revisited Ivbiodohen to inform the people of this development and encourage them to persistently pursue the execution of the road project, bearing in mind its social and economic importance. The engagement exercises were repeated and letters were sent to Oshiomole; Chris Ogie, commissioner for works; and Asein Victor, the state house of assembly member representing the community.
In November 2016, the Project Tracking Officer received phone calls from members of Ivbiodohen community confirming the presence of construction workers at the project site. Work on the road is ongoing and will ease commuters distress.
With cheaper transportation rates and increased sales, the livelihood of the people of Owan will be significantly impacted.