To the residents of Ikare Akoko, Oke-Alabojuto represented a long tale of myth which could not be fathomed and to travellers on the Owo/Ikare/Kabba road, it was a death trap which sent fear down their spine.
There used to be a myth around Oke-Alabojuto, the hilly portion of Ikare-Akoko township road. No native believed the famished and destructive rocky hill could be leveled.
But the Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu led government has shattered the myth. The hill could be leveled, after all. Oke-Alabojuto has now become Isale-Alabojuto.
Before it was leveled, the hilly road had consumed several lives and destroyed uncountable valuable properties through auto-crashes, making residents to live in fear for decades.
The age-long nightmare has now ended for the people of Ikare and motorists plying the road.
It is now the dawn of singing a new song in Ikare Akoko. Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has changed the dreadful story about the notorious and slippery road. The woes have been thrown into the realms of history.
The Oke Alabojuto sad scenes have been changed to joyful and memorable ones. The once fearful hill is fast becoming a tourist centre as residents throng to the place to snap pictures for social media and memoirs.
When the governor told the people that the hill will be brought down to pave way for the dualization of the town, they never believed him.
Most of them said he had come to tell the old story again. It is one tall ambition of building a castle in the air. To them, the idea remained a project in the pipeline and will never see the light of the day.
There have been tales of mysteries surrounding the dreaded hill.
Most indigenes believed there are spirits that made the hill their habitat and would harm anyone that dared to level it. In another manner, some said witches and wizards were not ready to be appeased and as such, whoever attempted to level the hill would be severely dealt with by the Queens of the dark.
As a matter of fact, a chief in the town once said that he was flogged in his sleep when he appealed to market women to leave the roadside for their businesses when one of the past administrations attempted to start work on the project.
Another myth said the hill was having a big sea of water underneath and any attempt to level it would lead to a disastrous flood which will eventually wash Ikare away.
In their quest to find a solution to the problem, the people resulted to spiritual warfare. Traditionalists, Imams, Alfas, Pastors were called to seek the face of God but at the end, their prayers were answered when Governor Akeredolu said he was going to make Oke Alabojuto a valley.
Buy today, all these have continued to remain fable stories. They can be likened to some of the fairy tales in ‘Alice In The Wonderland. The doubting Thomases have continued to throng the site of the once notorious hills to see what determination can achieve.
Aketi has changed the narratives. The people are now happy. At least they can now sleep with their two eyes closed. There are no more fear of waking to mourn, no more fear of articulated lorries killing scores of market women. There are no more stories of vehicles falling and rolling on the hill. Those that are used to Ikare now know the difference.
Vehicles are being parked at both sides of the dual carriage way with a free flow of traffic, while residents of Ikare are now happy.
The Olukare of Ikare Akoko, Oba Akadiri Saliu Momoh IV, said he is happy this is coming at his own time.
His words: “I received the news with joy. Everybody in the town was very happy about the new development, because they knew the project was going to put a stop to the recurring needless accidents on the road.
“The construction of the Oke Alabojuto road is a wonderful thing to happen to the people of Akokoland and Nigeria in general, because the road links Ondo State to other parts of the country.
“We do appreciate the governor’s determination to permanently arrest our fears about this road. Our major concern, before the construction of the road by Akeredolu, was how to put a stop to the countless deaths on the road.
“Most vehicles, especially trucks and other big lorries would lose control and crash while ascending or descending the road due to break failure or other mechanical faults. And these resorted to loss of lives and properties.”
Also, the Olokeruwa of Okeruwa, Ikare-Akoko, Chief Dele Akerele, said casualties on the road reached a scary height when about five crashes, all resulting in fatalities, occurred within one week.
He said: “The days of wailing and gnashing of teeth over auto crashes and deaths on Oke Alabojuto are finally over.
“I feel very delighted that something good is coming to my town. Before the current state government started the constructing of this road, there had been series of fatal accidents. In fact, there was a week in which five fatal accidents were recorded on this hilly portion of the road.
“Our people are also delighted to see this road being constructed. It is a miracle, because it appeared that we have lost hope on the possibility of the community attracting the attention of the state government to put an end to the perpetual fear of losing lives to avoidable crashes on the road.”
Chief Dele Akerele was full of praises while speaking on the road. He said deaths on the road reached a dangerous height when accidents was becoming a daily affair.
He is now happy that the days of wailing and gnashing of teeth over auto crashes and deaths on Oke Alabojuto are finally over.
Other residents of the town have also commended the state government on the road, saying it has put an end to the countless deaths resulting from incessant accidents. They described the construction of the Alabojuto hill by the Akeredolu government as a blessing to the people of Ikare-Akoko, its environs, motorists and commuters alike.
A trader at the popular Oja Oba Market in Ikare, Mrs Khadijat Mohammed, said the construction of the road has brought smiles on the faces of traders as their worries are gone.
Mrs Khadijat said, “Before now, we used to worry about our safety anytime we came to this place to sell. It was only after we returned to our homes at the end of the day that we knew the cup had passed over us. We thank God the hill has been brought down by the governor”.
Victoria Kolade, another trader, said market women at the market were always the victims of the accidents occasioned by the dangerous nature of the road before it was reconstructed. Victoria posited that the construction of the Okealabojuto hill has brought great relief to the traders. She stated that the fear of being the next victim of accident on the hilly section of the Ikare Township road prevented most traders from coming to do business in the market before the construction of the road.
A community leader in Akoko, Alhaji Ibrahim Kilani said with the construction of the road, Ikare has become a good place to live in.
Alhaji Kilani stated that the fear of getting caught in accidents has now becoming a thing of the past.
The veteran journalist said whether the people like it or not, Akeredolu”s name will forever remain indelible in the sound of history of the Sunshine State.
According to him, the prevalence of accidents resulting in deaths of many innocent souls in Ikare has been thrown into the dustbin of history.
“Oke Alabojuto is now safe. Ikare will no longer witness deaths due to accidents resulting from the hilly nature of the Alabojuto Hill”.