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N14bn contract doesn’t mean end to PPP arrangement for 2nd Niger Bridge—Fashola

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola recently raised what can be described as fresh twist to the snail speed in the construction of 2nd Niger Bridge.

Explaining more on why government of Muhammadu Buhari went ahead to award the contract, he said government had given the go-ahead for work to continue on the bridge while discussions to see whether it could conclude a full business case and possibly concession the agreement to enable private investors come in and conclude the remaining works.

He recalled that the bridge was conceived as “Public Private Partnership (PPP) with government financing but negotiations had not been concluded and it was important to continue to work there.”

Analysts are now confused on the particular stage of the construction the private investors will come in or whether the gove3rnment will go ahead to deliver it as it did to East-West Road.

Looking at his comments during a recent visit to the construction site, Fashola said “I came here pursuant to the commitment of the Federal Government and that of President Muhammadu Buhari to complete the bridge.”

The latest news on federal government’s commitment to the bridge stems from a press release issued by the Assistant Director of Information in the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Mallam Mohammed Abdullahi, which last week in Abuja stated that the contract for the 2nd Niger Bridge was awarded to Julius Berger (Nig.) Ltd. at a total cost of N14.4 billion.

Abdullahi noted that the existing Niger Bridge, inaugurated on January 4, 1966 had severely been overstressed, adding that its continued serviceability could not be assured.

The statement added that the idea of a 2nd Niger Bridge started way back in the late 1970s but its realisation has been delayed by several challenges including the issue of acceptable Environmental Impacts Assessment (EIA) report. He added that the administration of President Buhari was resolute to ensure the completion of the project.

Fashola was quick to recall on site that for those who, before now, considered the 2nd Niger Bridge project a pipe dream given the high-wired politics into which it had been enmeshed over the years, the renewed interest of the current government to the project provides new hope for its eventual coming on stream. It is definitely something to cheer. This is more so, given the larger benefits to the nation the completion of the bridge that links the South East and the South Western parts of the country will bring about.