By Chioma Gabriel
Exciting social and economic activities now characterized the city of Akure at nights
Mr. Sola Akinsiku is a taxi driver in Akure who now prefers working at nights obviously due to the glittering street lights provided by the state government which now illuminate the major roads in the city from dusk to dawn every day.
He feels proud conveying his passengers who just arrived at the city from the northern part of the country around midnight on Tuesday as they watched with admiration the glittering city of Akure as they journeyed from the Road-block end of the Akure-Owo Bye pass en-route Oyemekun Road.
Akinsiku tells the visitors who listen with rapt attention how he now works late, sometimes till the early hours of the following day when he would go and pick his wife who sells cooked foods at the Old garage area on Oba Adesida Road.
Saturday Vanguard observed that there are now very bright modern streetlights erected in the entire stretch of Oyemekun Road from the Ilesa-Owo Expressway junction down to Oba Adesida Road up to the Fiwasaye end of the road.
The streetlights are powered by a state-of-the-art generators which usually switch themselves on automatically around 6:30pm and stop by 6:30am, everyday.
They had also been extended to Ondo Road from the Cathedral junction end of the Oba Adesida Road up to the Army barracks, on the way to Ondo town and from the Cathedral junction through Arakale Road to the NEPA area of the metropolis.
The street lights no doubt had added colour and glamour to the smooth roads, the beautiful bus shelters and the beautification projects on the two sides of the roads and within the median also complimented the inviting looks of the city that would provoke glowing expressions from any visitor to the city.
Apart from Akinsiku and other cab drivers who no longer needed to put on their headlights whenever they are working through out nights because of the unbelievable brightness of the lights, petty traders and night crawlers had attested to the fact that Akure is a place to be at night.
The driver noted during a chat that the only set of people who would be grumbling in silence about the latest development in the city are the hoodlums and others with criminal tendencies that had now been forced to relocate from their various hideouts which the brightness of the night had exposed.
Another cab driver, Mr. Simon Owolafe explains that the provision of the street lights had complimented the various urban renewal projects aimed at transforming Akure and make it look like a true state capital.
He said, “The sparkling lights have really illuminated the entire town and make it a beautiful sight to behold at night.
“The entire stretch of Oyemekun road through Oba Adesida down to the Fiwasaye end of the state capital now have super street lights which to me, is the best of its kind in Africa.
“The entire Ondo road, some parts of Alagbaka and the Owo road through Ijapo up to the Oke –Ijebu round about have also been lightened up by the Mimko magic wand which has made movement at night not only easy and safe, but also highly economically rewarding for me.
“Before now, movement in the capital city at night required exceptional bravery to travel through because of the darkness that used to envelope it.” The Cab driver confessed that his cab does not have a functional headlamp which he has been unable to fix for lack of fund and that the development usually made him to relocate home as soon as it was dark.
At the moment he says, “a cab driver does not need to have the headlight on whenever they are working at night because of the wonderful illumination of the streets by the streetlights.”
He says, “I now works till dead of the night even though, my vehicle’s headlamp has not been fixed. The street lights provided by the Mimiko administration have provided an avenue for me and some of my colleagues to make extra money which had been hitherto impossible.”
The impact of the street lights on residents of the city has been discovered to be so enormous that it has become a major topic of discussion at gatherings, especially drinking joints and fast foods centres in the town.
For instance, another cab driver in Akure, Mr. Dapo jaiyesinmi, who was found waiting for passengers who are enjoying their cold beer and fresh pepper soup around 11:15pm at a drinking joint on Oba Adesida on Tuesday says the provision of street lights had enhanced his income.
He says, “I could now afford to work late, as against what used to be obtainable in the past.”
A banker, Mr. Deji Adebayo says the timing of the street lights and the operational mode of the generators fascinates him.
Adebayo says he was by the side of one of the generator at the Adegbola area of the town recently, and was surprised when it switched itself on and the street lights in the area automatically came on without seeing anybody manipulating any device around it.
He says, “I woke up early the following morning to confirm the same process and the equipment switched itself off and the lights were off”
Adebayo observed that areas hitherto considered to be black spots or red zones in the city had suddenly became safe haven as a result of the illumination.
He says, “Gone were the days when street marauders would hide under the cover of the night that was prevalent around the city in the past, to carry out their nefarious activities.
“As a result of the opportunity provided by the street lights illumination, residents now transact businesses till late as was the case in the developed towns and cities abroad that are safe, unlike before when the streets of Akure would have been deserted by as early as 8.pm.”
It was further observed that the hitherto scary darkness at night in the capital city which had crippled its night life has suddenly come alive and entertainment business picked up considerably.
A visit to the Old garage and Araromi junction area recently revealed that recharge card sellers now make brisk business at night even up to 12 midnight.
Pharmaceutical stores and supermarkets located on major roads in the City are now beneficiaries of the new development.
A random check at the stores revealed that the operators stayed later than they used to since the ‘Mimiko light’ became operational.
A supermarket owner, Mr. Uche Nweke said, “because people stay out late these days as a result of the visibility made possible at night by Mimiko, we also have the courage to remain in the shop late as we make sales at night than day time because when you attend to people with emergency cases at night, you are expected to make more money.”
A cross section of fun seekers sighted at Fountain and the Dew Spinner constructed at the First Bank roundabout and the Fiwasaye junction in the Alagbaka area of the city as at 11:00pm on Wednesday, said they are now free to move about as they like now that the streetlights had been keeping Akure awake at nights.
It was observed that the two state-of-the-art facilities now add beauty and glamour to Akure at nights as beautiful multi-coloured lights installed in them had provided excellent sight to behold.
Also, Vulcanisers operating within the city have now had good stories to tell as one of them said “that since vehicular movements extends till later than it used to be, they are naturally forced to extend their time of operation as well”
Many residents of the state have however, appealed to the state government to replicate the streetlights in major towns of the state like Owo, Ikare, Okitipupa, Ondo Idanre, Ile-Oluji, Ore, and Igbokoda among others to reduce all forms of criminality at nights.
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