…Urges hosts communities to support project as most beneficiaries
BY CHIMAOBI NWAIWU
ONITSHA- AS eastern bound motorists and commuters lament their harrowing traffic gridlock experience at the Onitsha Bridge during Christmas and New Year celebrations, there seems to be hope for relief in future as work on the second Niger Bridge has reached 30%.
South East Voice took a trip to the sight of the project and confirmed that work is indeed in progress though the gridlock will not stop soon as a lot of work needs to be done.
The Federal Controller of Works who supervises the project, Engr. Rasaq Ajani, named items of work so far completed on the bridge project to include the sub-structures, that is, “from piling up to all the pillar cap. So, we are ready to commence the deck, that is the riding surface of the bridge.
“Also, we have done some earth works up to the end of the project, which is Owerri Road Interchange, which is kilometer 34 plot 900. It is not complete yet, we are still on it but we have cleared the road up to Owerri Road Interchange, and we have started the piling work on the Owerri Interchange itself. So that is what is ongoing now”, Ajani explained.
He explained that the piling work already done is the foundation work up to the substructure that will carry the deck, pointing out that “we are on the deck now; we are have started launching from the beginning, we have done one span last year before we vacated for Christmas and New Year celebrations”.
Explaining more, Ajani said that “there are three other smaller bridges along the way, one is Interchange, where two major roads meet in order to disperse the traffic area and problem easily, that is where we are having interchange, the road is crossing all these smaller roads and there are also bridges where the road can pass under.”
He named the areas where the smaller bridges were built to include Oko Amakom. “There is a road that links to Oko Amakom, we have a bridge there. So, that road can pass without interfering on the expressway we are constructing. There is another one at Atani road. We have also finished that one; the third one is the Owerri Road Interchange that is between Obosi and Oba communities.”
Engr. Ajani said that one area that gave them tough time was the Okpoko area because of the swampy nature of the area.
“What we are battling with there is the swampy nature of the area; the entire area is swampy because of Idemili River. So, we are encountering big swamp there, although we have passed that stage. We have sand-fill everywhere there and we are also doing the soil stabilization. When it is Sand filled, after some time, we expect the settlement; what we are doing now is stabilizing the soil.”
The controller disclosed that the major problem they had encountered on the project were funding and community restiveness, but disclosed that “those are now taken care of. They are no more issues, the government is up to date in terms of funding. Likewise, the communities too; we are now working harmoniously with the communities, although there were issues before, but they have all been resolved. The Governor intervened and the small problems were settled”.