Delta State Governor Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa on Tuesday said that until the second Niger bridge project is completed, the high density of vehicular traffic at the Asaba and Onitsha ends of the bridge would continue to occur especially at yuletide season.
Okowa stated this at Government House Asaba during a press conference with the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi on the strategies to control the free flow of traffic on the Niger bridge during the yuletide season.
The governor said the state government had concluded plans to set up a task force comprising the police, the military, FRSC officials, and the Delta State Traffic Management Authority to handle the traffic situation.
He called on the military and the police to dismantle their checkpoints around the bridge so as not to frustrate any action aimed at easing off the traffick gridlock, even as he said his administration would not cease to assist the Corps with logistics in traffick management and solicited the cooperation of all in making the road safe for all.
“I am glad that the boss of the FRSC is here again this year to ensure that we have the free flow of traffic across the River Niger bridge. You have done this year for which we are very grateful.
“Personally, I thought that there will be less of travelling this year but apparently from the brief I have, it appears that people are even travelling the more this year but I am glad that you have come to see what you men are doing in combination with the task force that we are setting up.
“It is my hope that working together, they (our taskforce and FRSC officials) will be able to ensure truly that we have a free flow of traffic at that point (the River Niger Bridge). The question is until the second Niger Bridge is truly finished, we may be going through this ritual (traffick gridlock) on a yearly basis,” the governor said.
On the second wave of COVID-19, Governor Okowa advised residents of the state to celebrate with caution as the virulent pandemic was out to claim more lives, emphasizing that churches must enforce the compulsory wearing of face masks, use of hand sanitizer, and strict observance of social distancing among other protocols that would keep the virus at bay.
He said that the state government would soon take more stringent measures to break the chain of transmission, stressing that the virus is now deadlier than how it was when it was first discovered.
Earlier, the Corps Marshal, FRSC, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi said he was in Government House Asaba to brief the governor on the annual review meeting on how to ease off traffic at the bridgehead, Asaba.
Dr. Oyeyemi said his men have been deployed to the area to ensure that no passenger or other road users were stranded on the Asaba/Onitsha route during the festive period.
“This is the sixth in the series of our annual review meetings in respect of the end of the year patrol operations especially as it concerns the major corridors in the southern part of the country.
“I have deployed additional personnel; I deployed 600 yesterday to Anambra and this morning, we are deploying over 652 personnel to Delta State. We have mobilised our two heavy-duty recovery vehicles if there is any breakdown of vehicles on the road.
“One thing I want to inform the public is that there is an unprecedented increase in vehicular density on the nation’s highways this year. Today (Tuesday) is December 22, 2020, and since Sunday, December 20, we have witnessed vehicular densities.
“So, there is a need for extra patience on the part of road users. We have tackled the other problem at Onitsha end; so, there is no obstruction there and with the heavy-duty recovery vehicles donated by the state government, we can promptly remove any broken-down vehicle,” he said.
While commending Governor Okowa for his sustained support through vehicles and other logistics, the Corps Marshal advised all road users to be patient and obey traffic rules while on the road.
He said the Corps will enforce all rules that would ensure safety on roads and the fight against COVID-19 spread and advised all motor parks to comply with the federal government’s protocols against the virus.