Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen
By Bennett Oghifo
Work on the second bridge across the River Niger at Onitsha will begin in the first quarter of next year, the Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen has said.
The minister stated this at the inspection of the rehabilitation work at the third mainland bridge in Lagos, Friday.
Also to begin in the first quarter of next year, are the construction of the second Niger Bridge at Onitsha and the reconstruction of the International Airport Road in Lagos into an eight-lane carriageway.
On the rehabilitation of the third mainland bridge, Onolememen said the pace of work was currently a week ahead of schedule, adding that it was possible to complete the bridge’s rehabilitation before the proposed due date of November 5 this year.
“The deadline we have given to Lagosians on completion of the maintenance work on the third mainland bridge will not change but rather we will work hard to see if we can get some mileage of say a couple of weeks. I thank you Lagosians for your patience and perseverance.”
On the second Niger Bridge, Onolememen said: “The Federal Government’s intention is for real and, that a decision reached was that the counterpart funding for the bridge has to come from the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme.
"When the SURE programme was put together, the second Niger Bridge featured prominently and one of the decisions at the time was that the counterpart funding of the second Niger Bridge will have to come from the SURE programme.
"That is why if you look at the SURE key programmes, over N20 billion was budgeted for the second Niger Bridge. That represents the federal government’s 30 percent counterpart funding of this particular project.”
During this week’s Federal Executive Council meeting a consultancy advisory committee was inaugurated.
“We are determined to do the ground-breaking ceremony of the second Niger Bridge in the first quarter of next year,” he said.
He said many international consortiums have expressed interest in the concession of the second Niger Bridge.
“As a matter of fact, these are people who are very vast in the issue of concession and are big names from Germany, Australia, France, Italy and many European countries.”
Onolememen said the procurement of the contract of the bridge was not well done in the past but that there was a transparent system in place now to ensure that every procurement process was done the proper way.
“We now follow some set of rules and standards in our local and international procurement.”
Discussing the federal government’s involvement in the proposed fourth mainland bridge, Onolememen said, “many people are not aware that the Federal Ministry of Works conceived and designed what is called the second Lagos outer ring road which first section will take off from Apapa and Tin Can Island area through Sango-Abeokuta and empty into the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
"The reason for this project is to permanently decongest the nagging traffic problem on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway and, to provide a good alternative, particularly for trucks leaving the Ports and heading to other parts of Nigeria without constituting a nuisance to Lagos residents.”
He added: “The second section of that outer ring road will take off from Lekki to Ogolonto in Ikorodu on the alignment of the proposed fourth mainland bridge and, only recently the Chinese firm developing the Lekki Deep Sea harbor sent a proposal to the Federal Government’s Economic Management Intervention Team, of which I am a member, requesting support for an access road that will link the Lekki Free Trade Zone and also that of the proposed Deep Sea Harbour in Lekki.
"When we reviewed the proposal, the issue of the fourth mainland bridge cameup and it was resolved that the project must include the fourth mainland bridge that will link Lekki with Ikorodu.”
Onolememen said the federal government has terminated a contract for the reconstruction of the Ikorodu-Sagamu road it awarded to Impresit Bakolori for non-performance.
“In the last three years since the contract was awarded, the contractor has not been able to conform to the agreement terms signed with the Federal Ministry of Works to complete its obligation in this particular project. Consequently, we have decided that this contract be terminated and, we have taken a decision at the Federal Ministry of Works to determine the contract. This road is one of the top priority roads that the Federal Ministry of Works will be executing in 2013 fiscal year starting from January.”
He also undertook a survey of the Ikorodu-Sagamu road and said, “if that comes on board, it will provide another access road to Lagos. It is still very topical on the table of the federal government and, we think the best way to drive it is through public, private partnership as is being done in the Lekki Free Trade Zone and the Lekki Deep Sea Harbour.”
Onolememen said the Federal Ministry of Works under his watch inherited a portfolio of about 168 projects requiring about N1 trillion to complete. He said on account of the global economic downturn, there was the need to priortise the completion of these projects to first of all include the projects that are crucial to the nation’s economy.
“We have targeted all the roads leading to the sea ports, refineries, the major arterial roads and major dual carriageways. These priority projects are; the Abuja-Abaji-Okene dual carriageway; the Enugu-Port Harcourt dual carriageway; Benin-Ore-Sagamu dual carriageway; the Lagos-Ibadan expressway; the section II of the Ibadan-Ilorin expressway; Kano-Maiduguri expressway and the second Niger Bridge.”