Six months after contracts were awarded for the construction of $10 million footbridges in Abuja to reduce accident rates and avoidable deaths in the metropolis, residents are no longer at ease with the slow pace of progress on the construction of the bridges, writes Chineme Okafor
“Our determination in this regard cannot and will not in the least be compromised because the lives of our citizens (pedestrians) crossing these roads are vital to our socio-economic renewal as indeed national transformation.”
Those were the exact words of the Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememem when he commissioned the construction of six pedestrian bridges at a contract sum of $10 million (about N1.6 billion) to be located in different strategic roadways within the Abuja metropolis over six-month earlier.
Onolememem indicated then that government intended to complete the project within the scheduled project timeline of six months considering the number of lives lost on such major highways on a regular basis whenever the residents of the capital city attempt to dash across them.
With unofficial figures from non-governmental organisations and relevant government agencies suggesting that about 100 lives may have been lost as result of people crossing the ever busy expressways in Abuja metropolis, residents of the capital city indeed welcomed the initiative, trusting that government would live up to its pledge on timely completion of the project.
Despite the pledge from Onolememem, residents of Abuja had as at the time when the project was initiated, considered the construction of pedestrian bridges within Abuja major highways a priority, but no recourse has come in this regard especially as the city’s master plan indicates that it was built as self-contained where required social amenities will be domiciled within its various districts.
Accordingly, the provision of pedestrian bridges was never accommodated in the master plan as it turned out that managers of the capital city never envisaged rapid and extreme growth in its population, as well as residents having genuine reasons to consistently cross the busy highways on a regular basis.
But last year, the federal government opted to construct pedestrian bridges in areas such as major roadways like the intersection between the Tafawa Balewa Way and Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway which is popularly known as the old Federal Secretariat in Area 1, the intersection known as Finance at Wuye District along the same Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway by Olusegun Obasanjo Way and the intersection at Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway by Ahmadu Bello Way also known as the Banex junction.
Other locations for such pedestrian bridges are the junction at Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway by Shehu Shagari Way referred to as the NICON junction which is opposite of a sprawling satellite town known as Gishiri, the junction at Shehu Yar’Adua Way by Okonjo-Iweala Way called VIO Mabushi junction and of course the junction at Shehu Yar’Adua Way by Ladi Kwali Way, often tagged the Sheraton junction.