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Commuters Raise Doubt Over Completion Of Second Niger Bridge

Regardless the completion of the Second Niger Bridge connecting Onitsha, Anambra State in the Southeast and Asaba, Delta State in the South-South, indication shows that travellers and commuters would not be able to use the bridge before December as the access road at the Asaba end is yet to be constructed.

For those who had expected to ply the road to connect the ever-busy commercial city of Onitsha during the Christmas and New Year celebrations, that hope is dashed, at least for now, as they still would have to contend with the perennial traffic snarl, which is worse during the Yuletide.

The (First) Niger Bridge, constructed over 60 years ago, has become too narrow for the volume of traffic from Asaba to Onitsha and vice versa. Close to Christmas every year, many passengers and motorists are forced to sleep on the road inward Onitsha due to bottleneck on the bridge, compounded by indiscipline on the part of motorists, especially commercial drivers.

Though the access road/Onitsha-Owerri interchange is virtually completed, the bridge, for now, remains closed to traffic, except vehicles belonging to the contractor, Julius Berger Plc, which convey workers from one end to the other as they put finishing touches on the long-awaited road.

When contacted to know when the bridge would be formally open to the public, the acting Controller of Works, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, who is the resident engineer for the project, Oluwaseyi Martins, referred The Guardian to the Abuja head office of the ministry. In Abuja, the enquiry was acknowledged, with a response being awaited.

 During a press briefing in September, Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, had announced the completion of the bridge, but he was silent on when the bridge would be inaugurated. 

He had stated: “Our priority is to open the Second Niger Bridge to traffic by December, so that those travelling for the season will do so at ease.”

“The link roads at the Onitsha axis of the bridge have also been completed. Where we are having issues is the link roads at the Asaba axis of the bridge. We are currently sorting issues relating to payment of compensation to affected communities, but, as I speak, engineers are on site working and the sand filling is ongoing.

“We are committed to opening the bridge to traffic by December and I can assure you that, with the level of work done, the set target will be met.”

The Second Niger Bridge was initially billed for completion last February, but was delayed by the COVID-19 lockdown and EndSARS protests, among others.

Apart from the fact that the bridge has not been commissioned/inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari, as was expected even before now, it was gathered that funds for the second phase of the legacy project, which includes construction of the access road from close to around Asaba Airport in Delta State by Julius Berger Plc, have not been released and is not likely to be released before the end of the year.

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