Frustrated by abysmally low patronage from travellers, a sizable number of roadside traders in Ekiti State have contributed N250,000 to rehabilitate federal roads in the state, especially between Efon Alaaye and Ado Ekiti.
The traders, who are predominantly women hawking such farm produce as yams, banana, plantain and corns on federal roads, lamented that they had been excluded from the fiscal plan under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Some of the traders expressed their concern in separate interview with THISDAY on Friday, narrating how abysmally low patronage from commuters in the state compelled to contribute N250, 000 to fix federal roads in the state.
Operating along the highway at Efon Alaaye farmstead in Efon Local Government Area, the traders said they had to task themselves to carry out palliative works on the roads when it started affecting their businesses adversely.
Speaking with THISDAY, a 52 -year old locust beans seller, Mrs Oladunni Olagoke said patronage had dropped because over 80 percent of motorists had diverted to Ita Ure-Efon-Iwaraja road to avoid the bad portion of the Ekiti-Osun border where they were trading.
Olagoke said this had caused “serious slump in the level of gains they were making on daily basis. Before the road went so bad to the extent that the motorists and some of our best customers decided to take alternative route, I was making between N20, 000 and N25, 000 daily.
“But now, I hardly goods valued N5, 000 per day. Many times, we went home empty handed. This situation prompted us to contribute N5, 000 each, though depending on the strength of your business.
“There were those who contributed N1, 000. Some contributed N2, 000 to buy gravels and hired labourers to do the palliative works for us. The idea is to attract commuters to the portion of the Ekiti-Osun road that commuters had abandoned. Now, our customers are gradually returning.”
Giving insight on the materials they purchased for the project, she said: “We bought five loads of gravel at N35, 000 each. We bought two loads of sand at N30, 000 and the remaining money went for the labourers and food.
“But we could only carry out palliative works which will not last. We therefore appeal to the federal government to rehabilitate Aramoko-Erio-Ijebu-Ijesha road where we stay so that our means of livelihood can be sustained.”
A 21-year old secondary school leaver, Miss Ajibike Ayomide narrated the ordeal of the hawkers on the federal roads in the state, noting that the portion of road had damaged many vehicles and caused accidents of monumental proportion before their intervention.
Ayomide, who hawks bitter Kola along the corridor, said: “This is where we make money to live our lives. We have to keep our bodies and souls together. I am a school certificate holder. I finished secondary school two years ago.
“But I had to start hawking to raise money to continue my education. I was happy to contribute a sum of N1, 000 to the palliative work because it will boost and improve patronage from commuters passing through the corridor.”
Also speaking, a water vendor and a mother of six-month-old baby, Mrs Kehinde Osuolale said many motorists had accidents on that road as a result of potholes and craters.
“It was even God that saved us one day when one truck had brake failure while meandering through the potholes. It was God that did it, we all ran into the bush to prevent being killed.
“You can see that I am hawking with a baby at my back, if I get a better job, I will surely quit this job. But we appeal to government to have mercy and repair this road to actually promote our businesses,” Osuolale explained.