Isaac Anumihe and Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Federal Government, at the weekend, said that 17 per cent progress was achieved in the ongoing construction work at the second Niger Bridge designed to link Delta and Anambra states.
This was even as the Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Mustapha Baba Shehuri, assured Nigerians that the government would continue to fund the construction of the bridge till completion.
He said the progress was possible due to the sincerity of government in funding the project considered critical to socioeconomic development of the Nigeria, particularly people from the South East and South South geo -political zones.
Mustapha Baba Shehuri, who confirmed the state of work when he embarked on an inspection tour of some Federal Government projects in Enugu and Anambra states at the weekend, including the second Niger Bridge and Onitsha-Enugu Expressway, said the project was being funded through the National Sovereign Investment Fund (NSIA), which is a more secured funding platform for the success of the project, stresing the payment has been regular.
He was hopeful that with the impressive pace of work, the contractor, Julius Berger Nigeria, the construction of an additional bridge to complement the existing one built in 1965 has placed a huge obligation on the government.
With respect to compensations payable to assets owners affected by the ongoing construction, the Federal Controller of Works for Anambra State, Ajani Adeyemo, confirmed that more than N3.5 billion has been spent so far on payment to people whose lands were affected in the construction.
He added: “However, there are other pockets of complaints and litigations but the appropriate committee set up by the Ministry of Works is working on how to resolve pending issues to avoid agitations that might delay the project.”
Meanwhile, the Project Supervisor, Friedrich Joseph Wieser, has expressed appreciation to the government for the huge financial and logistics support received thus far, which it said was evident in the impressive pace of construction work at site. The contractor confirmed that advanced payment has been received, in addition to other supports from the government. He also confirmed that the communities have been supportive and helpful in the progress of work.
He said: “The only big challenge is the River Niger itself, which is expected to rise by 10 to 12 meters by June. To this end, we are working round the clock to ensure that we finish the foundation before the rainy season comes in full.”