By Favour Nnabugwu
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, on Saturday, said work is ongoing at the second Niger Bridge as compensation from both end of Anambra and Delta hit N5billion.
Fashola also said all payment for the completion of Zik’s Mausoleum has been made to the contractor, Bouygues Construction to complete the job by September 30, 2018.
Fashola gave the assurance when he visited Onitsha, the commercial city of Anambra to inspect the progress of work on the 2nd Niger Bridge, Zik’s mausoleum and other major projects in the Southeast while he also visited the State Governor, Willie Obiano.
“By assessment, the piling work is about at the 2nd Niger Bridge 50 percent done, at the time I resumed work at the Ministry, only the bridge was designed and work had stopped here but because of the commitment of the President and the government, work has resumed here and for the foreseeable future, I dont see any reason why work will stop here again because the funding is now being provided, the Minister said”
On the mausoleum, Fashola said the has no reason not to deliver by September 30th as he has promised, “The contractor is back to work late I admit but I have told him that if he fails to deliver by the end of October, he will leave the site, we will take it over by ourselves and finish it.”
On the need for the first Niger bridge to continue to serve Nigerians, he said maintenance work is also ongoing to make the over 50 years old bridge more durable.
According to him, “The old and original bridge, as we speak, we are also undertaking maintenance work on that bridge, we have contractors that are doing a lot of work that you cannot see. Some under the water, some under the abodement and some under the deck. So their is a lot of work going on to ensure that the bridge is maintained and it continues to serve us just like you see with other bridges, all over the world.”
He said further, “As for the second Niger bridge, I can assure you that the contractor will not leave the site because of funds, if their is a reason for the contractor to leave the site, it must be a reason created by Anambra but I know you will not allow that happen.”
“I say that in the context of the following, the design for the approach road that links Anambra Onitcha to the bridge and links Asaba to the bridge has now been completed, their.was no design for it when took office, the next state is to award.”
“As I mentioned to you, there are compensation issues, we have received compensation claims of about N3.44 billion, that is a lot of money to pay for land, we have.paid N1.8 billion, our strategy is to pay in sections where the contractor wants to work because we keep receiving more claims and we want to be sure that we are paying the claims to the right people.”
He explained, “We do not pay in advance, we are pay when the contractor wants to start work so that people will not collect money on the land and come back to say the land didn’t belong to those paid”
“We have received an additional claim of N1.5 billion and almost everybody now seems to just be filling claims, these are some of the impediments that I see on the bridge.”
He asked, “If we are paying N5 billion towards compensation, how much will we spend towards the actual bridge itself? I think people need to understand that for you to have development, their is some cost to it.”
The Minster, however, pleaded with the Anambra State Government to help the federal government in resolving the issues of flooding claims from the indigenes, This is where we will need you yo help us.
In his remarks, Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra stressed that him and the Minister discussed issues on the second Niger Bridge, Zik’s mausoleum; Umunna-Onitsha Expressway; refund of N50bn intervention on federal road; the Revenue house among others.
Addressing newsmen on the purpose of the Minister’s visit to State house, Obiano said
“He is here primarily to inspect federal projects that are ongoing, we discussed the second Niger bridge, the Enugu-Onitcha expressway and ofcourse i cant fail to mention the refund of about N50b that the Federal Government is owing Anambra state on road works, then i told him of the inter change that we want to do by a revenue house in Awka here that will ease traffic, reduce accidents and what have you, we also talked about Regina Chelly and things he should do there.”
The Federal Controller of Works in Anambra State, Engr Innocent Alumonah, says the project work at the Second Niger Bridge linking Asaba in Delta and Onitsha in Anambra is already 50 per cent completed.
Alumonah said that the contracting firm, Julius Berger Nig. Plc. had also accomplished about 85 piles of 914 millimeter in diameter in different axis.