The Director-General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, has said that the federal government will award the main contract for the second Niger Bridge before the 2019 general elections.
Mr Okechukwu gave the assurance while inspecting ongoing works at the Second Niger Bridge in Onitsha, Anambra, and Asaba, Delta, on Monday.
He was accompanied by some officials of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Federal Controller of Works in Anambra, Innocent Alumonah.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari was already fulfilling his social contract with Nigerians, noting that the second Niger Bridge was among his four critical infrastructure programmes.
“He is targeting 4,000 kms of federal roads, 5,000 kms of standard gauge rail line, sufficiency in food production and 5,000 additional power projects.
“The Federal Government has commenced work on the Mambilla Hydro electricity power plant which is expected to generate over 3,000 megawatts of electricity.
“He is about to embark on the Enugu coal power project which is expected to generate about 1,000 megawatts of electricity.
“Besides, other renewable power projects like the wind and solar will make up 5,000 megawatts in addition to the 7,000 megawatts already existing.
“The president has assured that without critical infrastructure, the Nigerian industrial growth will be a mirage. What is stunting the growth of the country is critical infrastructure.”
Mr Okechukwu said that the project was no longer under Public, Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, but being solely financed by the federal government.
According to him, Mr Buhari believes that public fund is the fastest way to lay the critical foundation for critical infrastructure.
Earlier, Mr Alumonah, said the early works of the four-phase project had been executed up to 46 per cent and would end by July.
He said the main contract for the bridge would soon be awarded, adding that a two-km road linking Asaba to the bridge had been filled up to four meters.
“Some culverts have been completed for the project.
“The link road to the bridge will be linked around Okpanam junction near Asaba Airport to Ibusa junction, Oko, through Ogbaru, Atani to Onitsha-Owerri Road and later join Enugu-Onitsha Expressway.”
According to him, the Second Niger Bridge project will cost N14.45 billion.
He expressed confidence that there would not be any interruption between the early works and the main contract.
The controller said the federal government had awarded a contract to fortify the existing Niger Bridge built in 1965, to further increase the lifespan.
He said that 79 of the 83 piles had already been put in place at the Ogbaru end of the project with each pile measuring about 40 metres in length.
“By next week, we will be building the pile cap at axis 290. The entire Second Niger Bridge is 1.59-kms.
“With the ongoing project, I believe that the promise of the present administration to give us the dividend of democracy will be accomplished in no distant time.
“The project is strategic to all Nigerians. It will enhance socio-economic activities, improve security and ease business in Onitsha which boasts of the largest market in West Africa,” he said.