By Bennett Oghifo
Minister of Works, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, celebrated with Nigerians and commended Julius Berger Nigeria Plc for the great work executed and delivered at the 2nd River Bridge. The Minister spoke during his visit to the newly completed bridge to temporarily open it for the use of commuters. The temporary opening of the bridge, said the minister, is to ease the otherwise previous traffic gridlock and commuter torment that use to characterise the travelling experience of holidaymakers, especially during the yuletide season.
The Minister likened the previous hardship experienced on the old Niger bridge by which commuters spend more than two days just to cross the old bridge for holidays as “a dimension of poverty and economic hamstring to citizens which the President Buhari administration decided to tackle decisively and has, indeed, successfully addressed.”
Chairman of the South-east Governors‘ Forum, His Excellency, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State described the accomplishment and opening of the new River Niger Bridge by the President Buhari administration using the nation’s most reliable construction company, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, as “a great miracle for the people of the South-east and Nigeria at large‘, adding that…it is a great miracle for our people who will no longer sleep for days at that point (refering tot he previously endemic transiting gridlock between the Asaba and Onitsha ends of the old Niger Bridge during the yuletide holiday heavy traffic to the South east).”
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State also commended the Federal Government and Julius Berger for the completion and opening of the Bridge. The Delta State Governor spoke through his Commissioner for Works who was also present at the New River Niger Bridge during the Minister’s visit to open it for the temporary use of commuters during the holidays.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Engineer’s representative for the 2nd River Niger Bridge Project, Engr. Oluwaseyi Martins, explained that the first phase of the bridge and road opening which is for light vehicles moving one way only from Asaba to the South-east, would last from 15 December 20221st January, 2023. The second phase would be for one way traffic returning from the South-east (Onitsha end) towards Asaba, and it will last from 3rd January 2023 to 15 January, 2023. “Heavy duty vehicles still remain restricted from the new bridge due to the available small turning radius for now,“ he added.
Julius Berger Nigeria Plc was represented at the ceremony which commenced at the Asaba end of the new bridge by the project director, Dr. Friedrich Wieser and the company’s Coordinator for Executive projects, Mr. Kai-Uwe Koehler, amongst others.
The Minister for works also visited the fast-progressing Bodo-Bonny Road project in Rivers State. During his visit, Fashola stated that work on the project is slated for completion in December 2023. The Minister hailed the continued progress on the work saying that, it could only have been done by Nigeria’s foremost engineering construction company, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc. Fashola spoke at the project inspection tour said, “…this project is going to open up this community, and will be completed December next year, Buhari in office or not. There is no fear about that and about the funding and there is certainly no fear about the ability and competence of Julius Berger to deliver on the project and in superb quality.“
Stressing that funding for the project comes from the federal government’s Tax Credit Scheme into which both the NLNG and other big companies like Dangote and NNPC are investing, the minister continued, we are in Bodo trying to connect to Bonny Island. Contrary to what some people may say, the N200billion invested in this BBR project is nothing compared to its long term significance. This is my fourth time here. From the first time when I visited to really understand the project at hand, it was alarming that within one state, people could not connect with one another. They were being inhibited. But the Peace Committee set up for the project embraced all the communities in this project area. Thank God, they are all working together now.
The Julius Berger Project Manager for the Bodo-Bonny Road (BBR), Engr Thomas Haug on his part did not mince words in reassuring all stakeholders that work was progressing and would be delivered on schedule. He said, „…the scope of work for the Bodo-Bonny Road includes the constrcution of a 38km long road through the low lying swampy area including three major bridges of 500m, 780m and 12oom in lenght as well as 9 mini bridges, a pipeline crossing bridge and multiple pipeline crossings and culverts.“ Engr Haug added that after the completion of the Bodo-Bonny Road, it will not only serve as a connection between Bonny and the mainland, but it will also connect fishing settlements and villages to the road network which could only be reached by boat hitherto; declaring that, we are sure that this road will have a big and comprenhensive socio-economic impact on this region.
Accompanied by the company’s Regional Project Coordinator, Mr. Sam Ngbor, the Project Manager led the minister and his entourage to physically inspect the entire lenght of the project from Bodo to the fringes of Bonny where the last mini bridge across the Nanabie Creek is being constructed. According to Engr. Thomas Haug, “…as we speak today, we are on the last mini bridge of the Bodo-Bonny Road project.“