Fashola, Gambari, Ngige, Others Walk Through 1.6 Km Second Niger Bridge, Buhari To Commission Bridge In October

Fashola, Gambari, Ngige, Others Walk Through 1.6 Km Second Niger Bridge, Buhari To Commission Bridge In October.

According to the Minister of Works, Mr Babatunde Fashola, the second Niger bridge between Asaba and Onitsha would be finished by the end of the year if all other factors remain constant.

The minister, who was speaking with Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Mr President’s Chief of Staff, and Dr Chris Ngige, Minister of Labor and Productivity, expressed pleasure with the project’s progress.

The crew, led by Julius Berger’s Managing Director, Dr Lars Richter, walked the 1.6-kilometer length of the bridge from Onitsha to Asaba, as well as examining the interchange of the access road at the Onitsha-Owerri end.

Fashola told media on the bridge that electricity will be turned off for around two weeks as the Ministry of Power, the producing and distribution firms worked out a plan to move the 332-kilowatt transformer lines over the bridge by April.

While pleading for patience, particularly from energy users in Anambra and Delta states, the minister stated that the cost of constructing the new bridge was not excessive.

“Nobody will be permanently dislocated but there will be a temporary disruption of power supply for about two weeks to allow such work to go on. It is very volatile if there is contact with human beings.”

On the bridge having a toll gate, Fashola said: “This will be a toll highway, whether it will be concessioned or not is another story entirely. The responsibility of our ministry is to deliver the asset in conjunction with the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).

“Once we have finished, they (NSIA) can concession if they want to, and we have already gotten FEC to approve the national tolling policy. So this is going to be consistent with what we see around the world. If we want to be like the world, we must be ready to do what the world does.

“We are looking at providing way bridges along the corridor so that their compliance otherwise we start the abuse that accelerates the deterioration of our infrastructure.

“This will be delivered on the best example as possible while we are upgrading others to meet those examples.

“The concessioning process is regulated by law and there are rules on how concession should be done.

“They are currently supervising concession process around 12 highways across the country. And it’s being open, so we have nothing to worry about.

“I just told that NSIA manages the funding, my job is to build the road. That is why the Chief of Staff is here to see if what we are reporting is consistent with what is happening here so that he can brief Mr President.

“In the national tolling policy, we made it clear that as much as it is possible when a road is to be tolled, there would be alternative. So when this road is tolled, the old bridge is an alternative which is not tolled.”

Professor Gambari, the Chief of Staff, also spoke, saying that it was the role of the Presidential Infrastructure Growth Fund to make the money available in collaboration with the NSIA to complete the project that would boost the area’s economic development.

“The good news is that by April 2, this bridge will be completed, and towards the end of the year, by October, Mr President will come to commission it,” Gambari said, adding that the bridge project was a priority for the administration.

READ ALSO: Policemen Feared Dead As Fashola, Ngige’s Convoy Crashes In Delta

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