Jonathan flags off construction of 2nd Niger Bridge for N117bn

President Goodluck Jonathan in Onitsha Monday conducted the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a second bridge across the River Niger to ease traffic on the existing one which was built over 50 years ago. Speaking at the ceremony, Jonathan said the bridge will herald further development in the south east and also ease the pain of travelers who have to stay in the traffic for a long period of time to cross the bridge during festive season. Jonathan said the construction of the bridge will be a fulfillment of his promise to the people of the South East Geopolitical zone during the 2011 electioneering campaign. He assured that the construction of the bridge will bring about development in the zone and also open up the south East to the rest of the country and the world. “This bridge will be key to development, not only to the South East but also to the entire country. It is a project that is designed to succeed. People talk about the failure of previous flag offs of the bridge by various administration but I know that projects like this require strict planning, else it will fail. “Many people may ask why are we coming now, or maybe we are doing this because of politics, but it is not true. We only had to wait and plan carefully because a project like this requires all avenues of funding to be made known. We are providing about 25percent of the funding for take off, and that is coming from SURE-P.” Jonathan said. Jonathan also said that it is a good thing that the first Niger Bridge was constructed by Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, and today, after about 50 years another Azikiwe is here to construct the second Niger bridge. Anambra State governor, Mr Peter Obi in his welcome speech said it is only the Jonathan administration that has given the Igbos the place they deserve in the country. He said that up till today, the Nigerian government never gave Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe the burial he deserved despite his contribution to nation building. “But under your administration, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu was given a very befitting burial. Today you have taken over the construction of a Maosoleum for Zik’s resting place. We are happy that after a fake flag off by the Obasanjo government, the bridge is today becoming a reality, before now Federal Government was asking Anambra and Delta state government to contribute N10billion each for the construction, but today you are doing it all by yourself.” The chairman South East Governior’s Forum, and governor of Abia State, Chief Theodore Orji, Delta State governor, Emmanual Uduaghan, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, his House of representatives Counterpart, Emeka Ihedioha and the minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala who spoke at the event eulogized President Jonathan for the will to construct the bridge. All speakers said the south east needs to pay back the president in 2015 when the presidential election will be conducted by voting him back to power to continue the good work he has started. Hon Ogbuefi Ozomgbachi, chairman House committee on works and his counterpart in the senate, Senator Anyaogu Eze said the national assembly will give the required backing to the president for the project. Ozomgbachi said there will be joy in Lagos, Aba, Onitsha, Kano, Bayelsa, Nnewi and other commercial cities as the construction of the bridge commences as it will herald economic boom. The bridge according to the Minister of Works, Arc Mike Onolememen who gave a breakdown of the statistics for the construction will cost a whooping N117billion and will be constructed within 48 months by Julius Berger Consortium – Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority under a design, build, finance, operate and transfer model. He explained that, “The second Niger Bridge is 1,509 meters long and forms part of the 11.90 km length project. The bridge is located 1.7km downstream of the existing bridge on a new alignment and consists of 2 no. end span of 40m… “The bridge is being realized under the public private partnership model. And as it is obtainable under the PPP model, the concessionaires will have to charge toll for the use of the new second Niger Bridge as well as have full commercial rights on the projects right of way, meanwhile the old bridge is to become the non-tolled alternative route for local traffic between Asaba and Onitsha. “I wish to assure Nigerians that the ministry will hold the concessionaire accountable on both technical and financial issues during the construction and operation and maintenance stages of the project. As the president flags off the project today, Julius berger-Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority will commence work immediately,” Onolememen said. Speaking at the occasion, the Chief Executive of Julius Berger, Engr Wolfgang Goetsch assured that his company will do everything possible, and will also work day and night to ensure timely completion of the project. The event was attended by prominent Igbo sons and daughters, chief Executives of multinational business concerns and political office holders from the zone, who all thanked the president for his zeal to get the job done.

By Ifeizu Joe

Ifeizu is a seasoned journalist and Managing Editor of TheRazor. He has wide knowledge of Anambra State and has reported the state objectively for over a decade.

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