Oyo youths attack construction company, over inefficiency
Angry youths at the Apete area of Ido Local Government Area, Oyo State, attacked the work station of the contractor handling construction of the Ijokodo-Apete road and the bridge linking the two communities, destroying equipment and vandalising property. The youths were protesting the death of about 10 people who drowned on Saturday evening after a makeshift bridge across a river collapsed as a result of heavy rain. Our correspondent who visited the two communities early on Sunday observed that caterpillars, office equipment and other property belonging to the company were destroyed by the angry youths, who broke into the work station and offices within. Thousands of residents were also seen at the Apete end of the river bank waiting for rescue operation to commence while some of them were throwing stones and other objects at a combined team of security forces who stood ground at the Ijokodo end of the road to maintain order. One of the securitymen employed by the construction company, Bassey Etum, said he had to run for dear life alongside five other colleagues when the irate youths stormed the place on Saturday night. He said, “After the river had overflown its banks, residents at the community said people drowned because of the bridge that collapsed. So the angry youths came and destroyed our machines and equipment. “They stole computers and other office equipment too. There were six securitymen here when they came last night. They wanted to lynch us so we ran into a nearby forest. When we returned around 11pm, nothing was left untouched; the whole place had been vandalised.” An eyewitness, Tunde Emiola, said the youths were angered by the slow pace of the construction company and increasing number of deaths resulting from the dilapidated state of the bridge. He said, “The rain started in the afternoon but by 6.30pm the bridge was submerged and standing precariously. I was among the crowd at the Apete end of the river bank.
“We saw people trying to make use of the bridge and warned them but they were desperate to reach home before it was too dark. “Suddenly, the wooden pillars holding the bridge collapsed and people fell into the river. The current was too much so there was little hope for survival. “We rescued two people but more that 10 others drowned immediately. I was there and saw it all till very late. The youths were really angry at the number of those that died.” Emiola said the river was formed by many other rivers included Ogun river, Eleyele river and so on, and that the collapsed bridge was the only link between Ijokodo community and Apete, Ajibode, Arula, Awotan, Olomo and other communities in the area, adding that the original bridge was swept away by a downpour four years ago. One of the policemen at the scene of the disaster said the youths were hostile towards them, wondering why they had to take laws into their own hands. He said, “They threw stones at us and shouted at us from the other side of the river when we reached here. They said the government abandoned them and caused the death of their neighbours who were swept away on Saturday evening.” Chairman of Ido Local Government, Prof. Joseph Olowofela, said the development was unfortunate, adding that just a day before the disaster, the council executives had decided to construct a stronger pedestrian bridge in place of the one that collapsed on Saturday. He said, “I was here on Friday with the contractor that was to erect the bridge. But we realised that the volume of the water was too much so we decided to wait for it to come down. ” Those who were rescued have been taken to a hospital. “We have a large number of people here so we will go ahead and construct the bridge. Whatever we do is a palliative measure becaue the state government through a contractor is already working on a standard bridge that will be completed before the end of this year.”