Nigerians and stakeholders in property and housing industry have highlighted economic benefits of the second Niger Bridge now under construction
Stories: Edward Nnachi
Concerned Nigerians have said that the 2nd Niger Bridge which was inaugurated for construction by the last administration is capable of opening up Nigeria up to economic benefits and opportunities given the successful completion of the project.
They therefore maintained that the standard criteria for decisions on a construction project of this nature included alignment with related infrastructure, economic benefits, minimisation of stress and hardship for the citizens, potentials for stimulating overall economic development, need to embrace emerging and efficient technology, among others.
Speaking to The UNION on the project, Mr. Segun Ajanlekoko, a former National President of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), said the building of the 2nd Niger Bridge at Onitsha, South Eastern part of the country will no doubt act as a catalyst towards boosting the nation’s local content capacity in the built environment sector.
He added that the rich experience gathered during the construction during the construction stage will add value to our local resource base. On the job creation potential of the project, Ajanlekoko, who is the immediate past President of the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN), stressed that the construction of the bridge would create over 100,000 employment opportunities to both professionals and technicians in the industry, adding that a wide base of long forgotten and unused artisans would most likely be engaged.
“The service of artisans will be needed in the course of the project. These artisans are both skilled and unskilled that spread across the craftsmanship. They include carpenters, bricklayers, steel benders, heavy truck haulagers, fitters, etc. They will ready be engaged during this construction of this project, and this will enhance their revenue base and it means improved living standard for them,” he said.
He listed other benefits of the project when successful delivered by its contactors to include opening up business opportunities between the East and rest of the country; enhance quick transportation of food stuffs which inadvertently would lead to cheaper prices of food commodities; the often overlooked benefit of integration and more harmonious united Nigeria.
According them, when viewed from an objective prism and against the backdrop of the impact of the bridge to the nation’s economy, it is long overdue to replace the Niger Bridge, which has verifiably and universally been identified as a deathtrap. Reacting on the issue, the Managing Director, MCO Real Estate, Mr. Munachi Okoye said the best that could help boost the economic fortunes of the South Eastern part of Nigeria is the building of the 2nd Niger Bridge and the strengthening of its ports. He added Nigerians would forever be grateful to the president administration if it could muzzle up the political will to ensure the eventual completion of the project because of its benefits to the nation’s economy.
On his part, the Chairman of Ohaneze Caretaker Committee, Chief Ralph Obioha told The UNION that the reoccurring demand of Ndigbo for the 2nd Niger Bridge at Onitsha connecting Asaba emphasises the great importance of that vital gateway that connects East and West. “The bridge carries the heaviest traffic and facilitates tremendous voulume of commerce and trade”, he noted.
Obioha, who added that the bridge should have constructed long time ago, stressed that “It is for Nigeria to accomplish the construction in order to reap the benefits there from”. The second Niger Bridge at Onitsha is being executed on a design, build, finance, operate and transfer model. The bridge is located downstream of the existing bridge on a new alignment. It would be dual carriageway with 8 traffic lanes and pedestrian walkways.
The length of the bridge is 1590m as part of an 11.90km long road project with the cost of construction put at N117.86billion. The promoters of the project are to be given a concession for a period of 25 years.The one in use now was constructed in 1963, and is the only link between the South-East of Nigeria and the rest of the country (towards the West). This bridge serves as the only access point to Anambra, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Benue, and Plateau States, when you approach from Lagos, and, indeed, all the states that formerly constituted the Western and mid-Western Regions, as well as from Abuja and segments of the North.