By Samuel Oyadongha, Yenagoa
Residents of the sleepy riverine settlement of Okaba in the Yenagoa Local Government Area can now heaved a sigh of relief as work has commenced on the rehabilitation of the erosion threatened Ikoli Bridge.
The bridge which linked Okaba community and other adjoining communities across the Ikoli Creek to mainland Yenagoa was constructed by Julius Berger and was about 98 per cent completed when the construction giant pulled out of the state and the entire Niger Delta at the height of youth militancy.
But the state government had to engage the services of the Ministry of Works through direct labour to ensure the completion of the structure and its subsequent commissioning by President Goodluck Jonathan about two years ago.
Though designed to link communities in the hinterland of Southern Ijaw to mainland Yenagoa with a view to opening up the area to commerce and development the structure which was hurriedly commissioned later succumbed to the elements with erosion threatening to cut of the bridge head.
The deplorable state of the head bridge and the portion linking the equally ailing Swali road had been a source of grave concern to motorists and indigenes of Okaba and its adjoining sister communities until government intervened last week by deploying men and materials to the area to tackle the troubled spot.
When Vanguard visited the area, some of the deep craters around the sand dune used in reinforcing the bridge head had been filled been with sand bags to prevent the erosion from spreading further.
Some Bayelsans who spoke to Vanguard though blamed the condition of the bridge on the unexpected withdrawal of Julius Berger from the state when work on the project had not been completed they however expressed gratitude to the authorities for listening to public outcry over the deplorable state of the structure by commencing rehabilitation work on the eroded area.
“It is a thing of joy that rehabilitation work is being done on the bridge. If you are conversant with the work on the bridge you will realize that work on the bridge was not completed before the construction firm pulled out from the Niger Delta at the height of youth militancy. Both extremes of the bridge head should have been heavily reinforced with cement before the bridge was commissioned,” said a concerned government official who craved anonymity.
A resident who simply identified himself as Ebiotu John, added, “There is need for periodic maintenance of the bridge given the way and manner it was hurriedly commissioned even when we are aware that the job was not one hundred per cent completed before sad turn of event in the Niger Delta which necessitated the withdrawal of Julius Berger from the state and the Niger Delta. The government should ensure periodic maintenance of the edifice so to prevent this ugly scenario.