President Goodluck Jonathan has commended the people of the South-East and South-South zones for their patience over delays in the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge.
The president performed the ceremony in Atani, near Onitsha, Anambra on Monday.
The dual carriageway bridge, designed to be 1,590m long, is scheduled to be completed in four years by Messrs Julius Berger Construction Company.
Jonathan said the Federal Government was building two important bridges across the two great Rivers in the country – Niger and Benue –for the benefit of Nigerians.
“The construction of the second bridge across River Benue is going on smoothly and this one would follow suit immediately from now.
“This bridge, when completed, would alleviate the movement difficulties of our people and improve commerce and trade of our people, especially congestion witnessed during festive seasons.
“It will not only serve the people of these areas but all Nigerians and the West African sub-region.’’
Jonathan added that “the bridge would be key to the economic development of the South-East and South-South zones.’’
He said the Federal Government had committed 25 per cent of the total cost of the bridge and that other funding for the project would come in due course.
Jonathan urged the governors of Anambra and Delta through which the bridge would pass, to provide a favourable environment for the construction to ensure its timely completion.
“This bridge and the National Conference, which would be inaugurated by next week, Monday, in Abuja, are two vital components of our national cohesion and unity,’’ he said.
Gov. Theodore Orji of Abia, on behalf of the South-East Governors Forum, thanked God for the president for his vision of always thinking of the welfare and wellbeing of Nigerian.
“Democracy is all about the people; since you have been our president, your major concern is about the people’s welfare.
“And for this and other things you have done for the South-East, we have to pay you back,’’ he said.
Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta said that the wish of the South-South people was that Mr President would also inaugurate the bridge in the next four years.
Uduaghan promised the safety of the workers and equipment of the construction company.
Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra thanked the president for a promise fulfilled as well as the enviable status accorded Ndi-Igbo.
“Mr President, you have made us proud as Ndi-Igbo and you have made us to be part of the country as well as given a fitting state burial to Chief Chukwuemeka Ojukwu.
“And we would not fail to thank you for removing the Obi-and-Sons Contractor, who was earlier awarded this project to a competent contractor, who we can trust to do a good job and having the manpower and equipment needed to deliver at set schedule and quality,’’ he noted.
The Minister of Works, Mr Mike Onolemenen, said that the ministry in 2013 commenced phase I of the project, including survey, morphodynamics study and soil investigation.
Onolemenen said the construction of the bridge would cost N117.8 billion, while government was executing the project under the Public-Private-Partnership arrangement for a concession period of 25 years.
“Let me at this juncture appreciate the Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy and Honourable Minister of Finance for her strong support in this project and for facilitating the World Bank support in the proposed construction of the two by-passes,’’ he said.
The Managing Director of Julius Berger, Mr. Wolfgang Goetsch, said the company was happy to be part of “this historic project’’ and part of the development of the country within its over 45 years operation in Nigeria.
Gash promised that the company would meet the project’s schedule and quality; adding: “This bridge is a legacy and we look forward for its early commissioning by Mr President.’’ (NAN)