The Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to completing the second Niger Bridge Project, by February 2022.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola stated this on Friday during a town hall meeting with Anambra and Delta state governments on the construction of the main works and associated infrastructures of the second Niger Bridge.
The Second Niger bridge, started by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, is 1.6 km long and furnished with other ancillary infrastructure including a 10.3 km highway, Owerri interchange and a toll station, expected to be completed in the year 2022.
The bridge, being constructed across Nigeria’s River Niger, will span from Asaba to Ozubulu through Ogbaru areas and is being developed through a public private partnership (PPP) involving Julius Berger.
TNC Correspondent reports that the project is expected to gulp the sum of 414 billion naira.
The Works and Housing Minister at the meeting, explained that the bridge on its own is 206 billion naira while the adjoining roads 2A and 2B will cost a combined 208 billion naira.
“So in these host communities alone that is the amount of investment the Federal Government is making. This commitment remains although the price of oil is now about 40 dollars per barrel,” he said.
He went further; “In order to build this bridge, the contractors will be buying 644,000 tonnes of aggregate. They will require 4 million cubic metres of sand, 68,000 tonnes of cement, 21,000 tonnes of reinforcement and 19 million litres of diesel. They also need 1,400 plus indigenous people as labour. This is the economic prosperity that this bridge is already bringing to this area. There is also the report by estate valuers that the cost of property here has tripled since this project began. But this is the beginning of the story of the prosperity this bridge brings.”
The Minister said the Buhari administration finds the completion of the Second Niger Bridge project as not only important for the economy of the South East, but also critical to its economic agenda, as it would improve socio-economic opportunities and benefit all Nigerians.
On the issue of flooding and other environmental issues raised by the Oko/Amakom communities, the Minister said they will go back to the Environmental Social Impact Assessment done on the project to be able to remedy the situation.
“Compensation is also a big issue and an ongoing communication and the state governments are better poised to negotiate with these communities so that we can work with them to resolve these issues. But we must know that there are sacrifices we must make as the host communities to ensure that this project is achieved as expected. What we therefore need is support, peace and patience to be able to finish this work. The host communities are to also make sacrifices to ensure that we finish this project,” Fashola pleaded.
In his remarks, the Governor of Delta state, Mr ifeanyi Okowa represented by the secretary to the state government Mr Chinedu Ebi, expressed appreciation to the Federal Government for maintaining work on the project.
He expressed the hope that working with the Federal Government, both states will find lasting solution to the issues mitigating the pace of work on the project.
Okowa further bemoaned the deplorable condition of Federal Roads in the state, calling on the Federal Government to urgently intervene on the issue.
“One of these roads is the Asaba-Benin Expressway which is failing gradually and if nothing is done, in the near future no one will be able to access this bridge coming from the West. Others are Eku-Abraka-Agbor road which has failed completely and the Benin-Warri Expressway which has also failed. These roads have constituted deathtraps for our people and caused massive gridlock and we are hoping that the Federal Government will urgently address the problems,” Okowa noted.
On his part, Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano commended the commitment of the Minister towards the project.
Obiano noted that the fulfillment of the commitments made by Julius Berger to the communities, holds the answer to the infractions usually experienced between the contractor and the host communities, but also asked the community leaders to ensure that their youths do not mitigate the project.
Earlier in his remarks, the managing director of Julius berger, Dr Lars Richter who said that the project is progressing at a rapid speed, pledged not to compromise on the quality of the work as well as deliver the job as signed in the contract papers.