By Tony Okafor, Awka
Many people have expressed outrage as the Federal Government begins to construct entrance and exit road for the second Niger Bridge at the head of the old Niger Bridge.
Drivers plying the old Niger Bridge raised the alarm on Wednesday that the new exit road constructed at Oko Junction would create more problem for the users of Benin-Asaba-Onitsha Expressway than solving it.
The original plan, our correspondent gathered, was the construction a bypass to the new bridge near the Asaba Airport.
But sources said that the Federal Government might have run out of cash to fund the original bye-pass, hence the emergency exit road at the Oko Junction.
Some commuters who spoke to our correspondent on Wednesday condemned the emergency exit road, accusing the Federal Government of cutting corners, simply because the project is in the southern part of the country.
One of the commuters, Ebere Ezekwelu said, “The Second Niger Bridge by-pass in Asaba is supposed to have passed through near the Asaba Airport to cut-off the entire Asaba town so as to avoid traffic gridlock which the second Niger Bridge is billed to solve.
“The objective of the much-touted Second Niger Bridge project is defeated by the current exit road at Oko which will give room for traffic gridlock at both ends of Asaba and of the old bridge.”
Samuel Okotie , a bus driver, said the traffic coming from Owerri axis of the Second Niger Bridge will definitely slow down the traffic coming from Asaba and Onitsha which he said would cause heavy traffic hold-ups.
This, he said, defeated the original intention of the Second Niger Bridge targeted at decongesting traffics at the Old Bridge.
Another commuter, John Uju, said , ” I said Buhari won’t commission the 2nd Niger Bridge because it won’t be completed. Look at them and 2nd Niger Bridge. All these are politics. The elections are over, the next thing is for them to abandon the bridge.
However, Obiora Afunwa, commended the Buhari Government for doing the bridge, saying, “At least the bridge itself has been hanged and trust out people, they can be using it like that. I don’t see Tinubu doing anything about the bridge if he is sworn in”.
A source, who pleaded anonymity said the Federal Government had to improvise the exit road at Oko junction so that President Buhari could commission the bridge before leaving office on May 29, 2023.
When contacted, an official of the Federal Ministry of Works in charge of the project, who simply gave his name as Mr Martins, insisted that the project would solve the problem of gridlock always experienced by those commuting between Asaba and Onitsha.
He said,”This construction will solve a lot of problems of the traffic gridlock on the old Niger Bridge. Traffic flow from Asaba will be split into two:One is those going to Onitsha and Awka through the old Niger Bridge.
“Two, those going to Obosi, Owerri, Aba, PH through the 2nd Niger Bridge.
Pressure on the old bridge will be reduced considerably.”
Denying the allegation of cutting corners, Martins who did not however say how those coming from Owerrii and Porthcourt axis would navigate their way at the Oko junction to avoid gridlock, said there was no cause for alarm.