River Niger Bridge
The Federal Government yesterday announced that the second River Niger Bridge, whose concessionaire, Julius Berger-Africa Infriastructure Investment Managers (AIIM) consortium, was unveiled last week, would be ready for use in 2017. This was disclosed in Abuja, by the Director of Private-Public Partnership in the ministry, Mr. Tunde Ekunsimi, while representing the Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onelomemen, on a Raypower radio programme, Political Platform.
When THISDAY asked the minister soon the bridge would be ready, he hedged the question, only managing to rule out 2015 as a possible date.
"It will take four years for the bridge to be ready. By 2017, people can see the second River Niger Bridge being in use," Ekunsimi said on behalf of the minister.
During the announcement of the outcome of the bid for the concession, which would last for 25 years, Onolememen had said the Federal Government's input into the public-private partnership would be N30 billion, while it would in turn take a marginal percentage to "show commitment."
He said the consortium of Julius Berger and AIIM, which is a South African firm, emerged the preferred bidder after beating four other short-listed consortia - Messrs ARM, Bouygues, China Harbour, and Johnson-Matiere.
According to him, the process of concessioning the project started with the call for advisory services and secondly for the big investors to express their interest in the construction of the bridge under the design, finance, build, operate and transfer model. He promised, however, that the government was intent on ensuring that a world class bridge would be delivered to the citizenry.
"We have gone through a painstaking procurement process that has lasted for 13 months and at the end of the process, the preferred bidder has emerged.
"Going forward, part of the work that will be carried out in the next couple of weeks will include the detailed hydrological survey, the detailed topographical survey, and the geo-technical survey that will lead to the final design for the bridge. We also carried out a detailed environmental and social impact assessment of the project and indepth traffic survey, among others," he said.
Speaking further, he added: "Our transaction adviser has virtually completed the larger survey and detailed traffic survey recently obtained but the consortium also has the responsibility to verify that in this second phase of the transaction.
"So, I want Nigerians to know that as promised by the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, the Federal Government is committed to delivering the second Niger bridge and all hands are on deck.
"And with the quality of the preferred bidder, I want to assure Nigerians that this project is fast becoming a reality." Yesterday, Ekunsimi told Nigerians on Raypower that the choice of Julius Berger as the concessionaire was enough assurance the project would be seen to conclusion because "no contract that Julius Berger handles has failed."