The Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Gambari, has declared that the second Niger Bridge will be completed in October 2022.
Mr Gambari disclosed this on Tuesday when he led Nigeria’s Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, and his Labour and Employment counterpart, Chris Ngige, to inspect on-going construction of the 1.6km bridge.
“We are very impressed with the work that has been done so far,” Mr Gambari said.
“The bridge links will be completed around the second or third week of April and the commissioning is projected to be around October this year,” he said.
The chief of staff said the government was prioritising the need to deliver a quality project that “would last for decades” as well as address safety and environmental concerns.
Mr Gambari, a professor of international relations, described claims that the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration committed huge funds to the project as untrue.
“It was only N10 billion that was made available by the previous administration. And if you know how much is the total cost of this project, we are talking at least N400 billion,” he said.
He said the initial fund committed by the past administration was used for architectural drawing of the project and payment of compensations to residents whose properties were destroyed in the course of the project.
The chief of staff expressed confidence that the project, when completed, would boost the economy of the country and also reduce the pressure on the first Niger bridge.
Also speaking, the Minister of Works, Mr Fashola, whose ministry oversees the project, said there would be power disruption around the bridge head for two weeks in April to enable the power transmission company to “relocate and re-install” the transmission lines to allow the completion of the ring roads connecting the bridge from all routes.
“Nobody will be permanently dislocated. We will appeal for residents’ understanding at the time,” he said.
On whether the Nigerian government would introduce a toll gate at the Bridge head, Mr Fashola said although the Federal Executive Council had approved the tolling of 12 highways in the country, such a decision was yet to be taken for the second Niger bridge.
Lars Richter, the managing director of Julius Berger Nigeria Limited, the company handling the project, said the company deployed a special technology to address the swampy nature of the area for the construction work to progress unhindered.
Mr Richter said the project has reached 93 per cent completion, assuring that it would be ready for commissioning in October.
The construction of the new bridge commenced on September 1, 2018.
The bridge spans from Asaba in Delta State to Ozubulu, Ogbaru and other communities in Anambra State.
The first Niger Bridge, linking Onitsha and Asaba, was completed in 1965 and built by the French construction company, Dumez.
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