James Emejo in Abuja
The much-anticipated completion of the 2nd Niger bridge has been slated for February 2022.
This was confirmed by the project financing partner, the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), and the contractor, Julius Berger, during a joint facility tour by the authority and traditional rulers from both Onitsha and Asaba.
The tour afforded the parties the opportunity to inspect the bridge’s construction site and the pre-fabrication plants on both sides of the bridge.
It further emerged that the first phase of the three – phased project will gulp a total sum of N220 billion- covering the bridge and the 11.9 kilometer stretch.
The entire 44 -kilometer bridge project had come under heavy criticism from some quarters following the temporary suspension of early works largely due to funding constraints- particularly the mode of financing- as well as community- related obstacles.
However, the Managing Director/Chief Executive, NSIA, Mr. Uche Orji had during a courtesy visit to the Obi of Onitsha, His Majesty Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, as well as the Iyase of Asaba, His Majesty, Patrick Isioma Goodluck, assured that the project would be completed by 2022.
He added that there would be visible signs of the bridge by the end of 2019 when some concrete slabs would have been positioned.
The NSIA boss explained that the resumption of work followed the deployment of capital to key projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) which was announced recently.
The PIDF, an initiative of President Muhammadu Buhari, was designed to facilitate the rapid completion of key infrastructure projects that had been stalled for years- and managed by NSIA.
The Funds had already been disbursed for construction works on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway; Second Niger Bridge Project as well as the Abuja-Kano Expressway.
Orji said till date, the NSIA had disbursed 71 billion under the PIDF programme.
According to him, other projects being undertaken under PIDF include the Mambilla Hydro-Power Project and East West Road.
He pointed out that the funding sources for the PIDF included 585 billion from the Nigerian Federation (Federal, State and Local Governments); 97 billion from NSIA, 1,500 billion from export credit agencies, and 372 billion from private investors.
He added that the NSIA is currently working closely with the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Federal Ministry of Power, Housing and Works to ensure proper financing and completion of the projects.
Orji added that all issues pertaining to the sustainability of the funding for the project had now been addressed, through the amendment to the funding structure.
Also, Julius Berger’s Project Director for the 2nd Niger Bridge, Mr. Friedrich Josef Wieser told journalists that he was convinced that the project would be completed on February 28, 2022.