By Vincent Ujumadu
AWKAâ€” A Hydro Geologist and Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Professor Boniface Egboka has raised an alarm over the condition of the ailing 50 yearâ€“old Niger Bridge, with a warning that the bridge may collapse anytime soon, if nothing is done urgently to save the situation.
Egboka, a Fellow of Nigerian Mining and Geo-Sciences Society, said in an interview in Awka,Â that it was dangerous to be playing politics with the bridge, considering its importance to the economy of the country.
Following similar concern, raisedÂ last year that the bridge was about collapsing, officials of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, inspected the bridge and after series of discussions with some experts, embarked on minor repairs work, after which they said that the existing bridge had been fortified. But the Unizik VC, said there was still danger as the bridge is still being recklessly abused.
â€œAs a professor of environmental hydro-geology, I know that the condition of Niger Bridge is very bad. The Federal Government officials rehabilitated the bridge sometime last year and they said that over 39 bolts were missing from dangerous point on the bridge. Whether they were able to replace them and how they replaced them, we did not know. But as one goes under the bridge and spends, some time listening to the movement of vehicles plying it, even if one is not an expert, he could be frightened at the wobbling state of the bridge now.
â€œThe security check points at the Onitsha and Asaba ends of the bridge are not helping matters as vehicles are made to be stationary on the bridge with their loads for a long time, which ought not be the case. Bridges should have free flow of traffic and not a place for mechanics to repair vehicles,” he said.