Contrary to speculations that work had stopped at the second Niger Bridge, Onitsha, checks bu Business Hilights South East Bureau Chief on Monday, showed that activities are on top gear to deliver the infrastructure on schedule.
President Muhammadu Buhari had during the final campaign for the gubernatorial election for the APC candidate, assured that the bridge will be delivered as and at when due.
Already, during his budget presentation speech, he revealed that N10bn earmarked for the bridge is contained in the 2018 budget.
On Monday, there were heavy duty machines and equipment as well as workers and security agents on ground at the site both on and off the river as piling activities are going on.
An engineer at the site who pleaded anonymity confided in our correspondent that the company, Julius Berger Plc., had resumed work at the site in October after the federal government mobilized the contractor to return to site.
He said that the duration for the completion of the contract is five years, noting that Julius Berger being a reputable construction firm would keep to it and ensure the delivery of the project within the stipulated period.
According to him, “We are back to the site fully and as you can see work has started and by the grace of God, we will not stop until we finish the job. I’m happy that the government has played its part and I pray it will keep to its promise and sustain it so that the job will continue until we finish it. I don’t think anything will stop the job again because water level has reduced, so we can comfortably work without any hindrance,” the official noted.
However, whereas the federal government had been steadily providing its own bit of the funding, there had been serial silence on the side of other private sector investors in the bridge construction process and funding.
It would be recalled that the second Niger Bridge is coming on the platform of Public-private-Partnership (PPP), where the federal government will push in 20 per cent, leaving the private sector investors to complete the remaining 80 per cent so as to toll the bridge on delivery for about 30 years to recoup their investments.
But efforts to really unmask the so called private investors have failed several times, thus raising fears of who and who are these unknown investors.
The existing Niger Bridge was commissioned on January 4, 1966. The idea of a Second Niger Bridge started in the 1970s but its execution had been constantly delayed due to multifarious problems ranging from finance to political will.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, had on October 20, 2017 during the APC Governorship campaign in Onitsha, Anambra State, said that the federal government had released the sum of N2 billion