2nd Niger Bridge: Easterners bemoan pace of work


MADUKA nweke, manweke@gmail.com 08034207864

If the rumour that the 2nd Niger Bridge has been abandoned is anything to go by, then the Igbo would have to wait longer for its realization.

According to Chief Simon Okafor, President Muhammadu Buhari must do well to have the bridge constructed. He said that if party politics degenerates to the extent that infrastructure that would open up economic activities in some regions are blocked on a flimsy excuse of not doing this or that during the election period, then the change we expect to have may not come.

Okafor appealed to President Buhari to eschew all sentiments coming from any section of the country if he has the spirit to lead the country to the promise land.

Late last week, rumour mills had it that construction giant, Julius Berger Nigeria Ltd., has stopped works on the project. Random checks showed that the company had in the last one month relieved over 50 workers on the site of their employment due to financial constraints.

The construction company had earlier stopped work on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway due to paucity of funds. A visit to the project site at the Asaba and Ogbaru end of the bridge showed that some of the heavy duty equipment working on the site have disappeared while only few security personnel and some foreign nationals were seen loitering at the site with the plant house along the expressway also shut.

According to Chief John Obodoechina, any attempt by this current administration to stop work on the site would sell the script that has been authored in the past by one of the former Presidents that the region do not have need of the bridge. Only security personnel were seen at the entrance of the plant. A source stated that there is funding gap for the project.

One of staffers of the giant construction company who himself is confused said, “More than 50 of us (ad hoc staff) have been sacked and even this weekend, more will go. The management told us that some of us should prepare to go including supervisor because they said there is no money to execute the project.”

The project is at the level of preliminary foundation and sand pilling. The Federal Government has promised to complete the project in 48 months.

Efforts to speak with the Corporate Affairs Manager of the company, Mr. Clement Iloba, on the development proved abortive as his cell phone seemed locked.

In the build up to the 2015 general elections, the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration had promised to speed up work on the project. In the heat of the presidential campaign, President Jonathan told the people of Anambra State and Nigerians that N10 billion had been spent on the project. Regrettably, the second Niger Bridge contract had been awarded since the Shehu Shagari administration in 1979. The project has always been a subject of political campaign by successive governments.

In 2006, former President Olusegun Obasanjo inaugurated the second Niger Bridge. The first Niger Bridge was built between 1964 and 1965 by the French construction giant, Dumez, to link Onitsha and Asaba in the present-day Anambra and Delta states at the cost of £5 million.

Source : SunOnline

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