By Ebere Suzy Okoye
President Goodluck Jonathan has performed a groundbreaking ceremony of the second River Niger bridge, appealed to the people of Anambra and Delta to create an enabling environment for the contractors in order for them to do a perfect job.
Speaking during a groundbreaking ceremony at the Krisoral ground, Atani, Ogbaru council area of Anambra state, Jonathan said that Federal Government has provided N40b as its own contribution out of N117b adding that the bridge will go across Nassarawa and Benue river in order to serve as a connection road across the country.
He disclosed that the construction of the second Niger Bridge was critical to his administration?s resolve to improve the economic fortunes of the country, adding that the ground breaking was first done by late President Yaradua without nothing to show for but in order to fulfillment his campaign promises, he has come to perform the groundbreaking ceremony again shortly before Governor Peter Obi leaves office next week.
He commended the efforts and resilience of Governor Obi in making sure that the project is actualized, noting that the bridge will be built to last for so long, while reiterating the readiness of his administration to monitor the progress of work at the bridge.
?It is my resolve and that of my administration to ensure the unity bridge is built to connect Asaba and Onitsha. I want to urge the Governors of Anambra and Delta states to ensure that the project is built on time and specification. The essence of monitoring the progress of work at the bridge is to ensure timely completion of the second Niger Bridge. We have every reason to deliver the second Niger Bridge?
He assured the people of South East and rest of the country of timely completion of the project which is awarded to the Julius Berger Construction company.
Earlier Governor Peter Obi of Anambra state expressed happiness that at last; the construction of second Niger Bridge had come to reality, while assuring that the project when completed will increase the economic activities in the entire country and South East at large.
?Mr. President, I don?t need to tell you how happy my people are, it is evident that the people of the South East and Nigeria at large are happy that today, you are building the second Niger Bridge. It is the most important project that will connect all the communities to the other, now people from this part of the country can travel to any parts of the country and even outside the Sub regions. We have confidence that the bridge will be built to last?
Governor Obi also commended President Jonathan for effectively ensuring speedy construction of Zik?s mausoleum which he said would ensure that the spirit of the former President of Nigeria rests in peace in his final resting place.
The Minister for Works, Mr. Mike Onolemenen said the project as part of the transformation agenda of Mr. President is to improve the infrastructure and socio-economic activities of the nation and that the federal government is executing the project under the Public Private Partnership, PPP arrangement for a concession period of 25 years through Design Build Finance, Operate and Transfer, DPFOT model.
Mr. Onolemenen said the second Niger Bridge is 1590 metres long and forms part of the 11.90 km length project which construction cost is put at N117, 860, 700, 741. 82 vat inclusive, adding that the construction of the second Niger Bridge will last for 48 months.
The Chairman, South East Governors? Forum and Governor of Abia state, Chief Theodore Orji said Mr. President with this latest development have shown that South East is of great importance in the Nigerian project and said the bridge which will serve as a gateway to the Southern part of Nigeria will boost economic activities of the people and solve the problem of loss of man?s hours being spent on the existing Niger bridge
Oriji said on behalf of South-East governors that because President Goodluck has done so much for the Easterners which includes, giving the late war lord, Chief Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu a befitting bury that they will return the gesture in support of his 2015 general election.
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu said the project is a dream come through while extolling the leadership qualities of President Goodluck Jonathan whom he said had demonstrated an uncommon love for Ndigbo and Nigeria at large by the commencement of the second Niger Bridge.
The President was accompanied by the Governors of Abia, Chief Theodore Orji, Ebonyi, Chief Martin Elechi, Delta, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and Deputy Governor Enugu state, Chief Sunday Onyebuchi while Ministers including the Coordinating Minister for Economy and Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Labaram Maku and Senators, Ayogu Eze, Ken Nnamani, Andy Uba and Joy Emodi and Deputy speaker House of Representatives, Chief Emeka Ihedioha also attended.