Despite government’s assurance at the commissioning of work on the bridges that within six months, residents of the city will have to cross major highways without them, work on majority on the proposed footbridges have moved at a very sluggish pace.
Except for advanced work on the ones at the old Federal Secretariat and Banex intersections, other areas have barely taken-off. Yet it does not look like work on all of the bridges will be concluded soon.
An industry expert with one of the first-rate construction firms in the country, who preferred not to be named, told THISDAY that the completion of the project by all ramifications has taken longer than expected.
He said: “All things been equal, if government has done all that it should do and by that I mean mobilisation of contractors to commence work, the project should not exceed three months considering that the contractors have resorted to pre-cast elements needed for the project on site.
“By pre-cast, I mean that all elements like, gantries, steps and landing are cast on site without delays in transportation or lifting of heavy elements to site, so there really should not be any reason for such continuous delays in delivering the project within schedule but you never can tell what is amiss in the whole scenario; I however do hope that the contractors are equal to task with such effortless construction work.”
Onolememem had said at the commissioning of the project being handled by three contractors that the gesture clearly underlined the government’s intention to reduce road fatalities in the country, especially in Abuja by at least 50 per cent within the safe road corridor framework.
He noted that the project symbolised the ministry’s dedication to the task of exploring innovative and resourceful ways of funding the road safety intervention initiative in Nigeria’s road sector, adding that Nigeria’s huge infrastructure gap may not be conceivably bridged through sole funding from public purse considering the highly capital-intensive nature, technology and skills requirements in the sector.
The minister stated that the collaboration with the World Bank was critical to the development of the pedestrian bridge project, saying: “The collaboration between the World Bank and the Federal Government in financing this project at a ratio of 9:1 respectively under the Road Sector Development Team of the Federal Ministry of Works is therefore imperative and represents the way forward for all critical infrastructure in line with the Federal Government’s policy of promoting partnership with multilateral and private sector financiers.”
Accordingly, the six pedestrian bridge project is divided into two phases and was awarded to Messrs Dutum Company Ltd, Rural Steel Bridging Ltd and Enerco Nigeria Ltd. Phase one consists of four pedestrian bridges while phase two has two pedestrian bridges with three batches of traffic management personnel to be deployed along some select roads in Abuja.
Watching and Waiting
Staying contemplative of what may become the final outcome of the project especially with the slow pace of work at various sites, residents of Abuja, without options are hopeful that the project will soon come to fruition. But there are fears that there may be more deaths before the footbridges are built.