By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
Abuja—The Managing Director (MD) of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority ( NSIA), Mr. Uche Orji, yesterday, raised a fresh hope of the completion of the multi-billion Naira Second Niger Bridge linking Asaba and Onitsha in Delta and Anambra States, respectively.
Briefing the press in Abuja, he admitted that some time was lost to transition in government but that the contractors had been mobilized to return to site, with assurances of accelerated work, especially with a new financing structure being worked out.
Mr, Orji said: “The Second Niger bridge, I would say, went through a phase where there was a pause, as we went through a kind of transition from one government to another.
“We have reconciled most of the issues and we are now working to get back on course with funding. I think the contractors have been mobilized once again and so they will get back to work.
“There is a new financing strategy which is being discussed, which we are driving along with the Federal Ministry of Works. Once that is agreed, you will see a significant progress on that bridge in the next couple of years.
“We did lose time, while we were trying to complete the transaction process and there are people who are working on this in the ministry. There was a bit of a period of time loss but we are back on track.
“But the financing structure is changing and once this is approved, we will move faster.
“Are we still looking at the completion date of 2020? I think so. I will be able to give you a definitive answer in the next three months when the financing plan is approved.”
On how much foreign investment the NSIA has attracted to the country, the MD disclosed that it was already in excess of $375 million, made up of $175 million investment in the Agric Fund; $100 million in the Real Estate; and another $100 million in Infracredit for the development of infrastructure facilities across the country.
Mr Orji also disclosed that the NSIA which was established in 2011 was working hard to boost agriculture by making fertilizer readily available to farmers and at an affordable price of N5, 500.
According to him, working with partners, the authority targeted one million metric tons of fertilizer which is being blended in parts of the country and would be delivered in five tranches, beginning from the forthcoming wet season.
The NSIA boss said that the fertilizers coming from the plants were not only branded but also had N5,500 printed on the bags to make it impossible for farmers to be made to pay more than that price. He added that a whistleblowers strategy had been put in place to check of any of abuse.
He also disclosed that the on-going transaction towards taking over the Commodities Exchange in Abuja would position it to create an agriculture sector that would guarantee optimum earnings for farmers.
Mr. Orji noted that without the exchange, middlemen who go to the villages to buy farm produce from the farmers would continue to be the main beneficiaries of the hard work of the farmers.