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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

40 years without electricity, Oyo community cries out

Members of Olorunda community in Oyo State have expressed their displeasure over an apparent neglect by governments at the local, state and federal levels.

Mini Town Hall
During a mini-town hall with the people of Olorunda, community leaders and representatives bare their minds on issues affecting their welfare. Photo credit: AMPLIFY/Awede Taiwo

Residents expressed this concern during a community outreach and needs assessment conducted by Amplify, a civic organisation advocating for development in rural and underserved communities. The outreach to Olorunda community revealed it lacked power supply, poor road network and potable water, among others.

“The government has forgotten about us,” a community elder, Salisu Raimi, remarked.

The presence of concrete electric poles, cables and even a transformer might suggest the community has access to power supply. But a closer observation revealed the transformers are weak and rusty while some of the electric poles lie on the floor broken. The community is said to have been off the grid for about 40 years since the installation of a transformer.

AMPLIFY power transformer
The power transformer has been in the community for about 40 years. Overgrown with weeds and rotting away it has not generated power for Olorunda community. Photo credit: AMPLIFY/Awede Taiwo

“It’s been about 40 years that transformer and electric poles were brought to the community. Since then, we have not had light,” says the community head.

“While there are many things that we need, power-supply is primary to us. It is the most important to us,” Raimi laments.

“We also want to use refrigerators and drink cold water,” Muideen Tijani, another community member expressed, his dissatisfaction.

AMPLIFY Borehole
Built in 1987 under a project funded by UNICEF and Federal Ministry of Health, this borehole is one of the three non-functional water sources in Olorunda community. Photo credit: AMPLIFY/Awede Taiwo

Olorunda community has a vast expanse of arable lands used for cassava cultivation which provides raw materials for garri production. Daily, hundreds of trucks convey agricultural produce to the main town. But these trips to and from the community are fraught with challenges as the roads are in a poor and deplorable shape.

Residents of Olorunda and other neighbouring communities have repeatedly contributed to keeping the road motorable.

“We constructed the road that led to this place,” says Yekini Raji. “We were given graders, but we were responsible for the fuelling. We also catered to the welfare of the drivers, which costs N50,000 daily and we were there for three days.”

Access to potable water is a significant challenge to residents of Olorunda community. Though there are four solar-powered water points and boreholes in Olorunda, only one of them supplies water for over 500 residents in the area.

Amplify team also visited the primary health centre in Olorunda and observed it is poorly equipped and lacked medical officials. According to some of the residents, there is only one healthcare officer in charge, and he does not reside in the community.

“If someone needs to be treated and the health officer is not on duty, we will call him on phone to come from Oyo town and attend to the patient.” With this kind of arrangement, someone in an emergency situation has limited chances of survival as the nearest health facility to the community is about one hour away.

As the community continues to grapple with the problems of lack of access to electricity, water, bad roads and a dysfunctional health care, it is important to point out that Olorunda has no public primary or secondary school; the modern garri processing factory has been abandoned as a result of poor maintenance.

These challenges might linger as long as the government is far away from the people.  It begs the question, who will rescue the forgotten ones?

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