•Residents cry out, call for FG, state intervention

•Gov Diri orders stoppage of further river dredging

DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN: Sand miners endanger bridge connecting Bayelsa communities
Governor Diri inspecting the damage

By Samuel Oyadongha

EKPETIAMA-TOMBIA Bridge, which links communities at Ekpetiama bloc in Yenagoa Local Government Area; the university town of Amassoma, Southern Ijaw Council; Igbedi, Kolokuma-Opokuma, Ogobiri in Sagbama area and Bayelsa International Airport is now exposed to rampaging erosion, following illegal dredging activities of sand miners on the Nun River.

NDV investigation revealed that portions of the bridge constructed by the Federal Government about two decades ago, were gradually eating away with conspicuous gaps at the edges and some of the joints.

The situation is frightening – Inhabitants

Some residents of the area who complained that the bridge was wearing down, called for urgent federal and state intervention to save the edifice from collapse.

READ ALSO: Erosion threatens Bayelsa coastal community

“The pressure on the bridge could cause its collapse as could be seen in the eroded edges. The bridge is presently serving communities in four local government areas of the state and it will be a disaster if we are again forced to go back to the use of boats to access these communities,” said Tonye Ebi.

Also speaking, a motorist, Francis Andaowei, said: “The situation in the area is really disturbing. We know the suffering before now getting to communities along this axis when there was no bridge there.

“Government should take steps to stop illegal dredging on our rivers to save our communities and critical assets like this bridge.”

There‘re marks of damage, weakness – Gov. Diri

A disturbed Governor Douye Diri, who visited the damaged portions of the bridge last week after he was notified about the ‘waiting disaster,’ immediately directed the immediate stoppage of dredging activities on the river and asked the Ministry of Environment to ensure that the directive stopping dredging on the river was carried out to prevent the collapse of the bridge.

“This structure is showing visible signs of damage and weakness. The activities of illegal dredgers in River Nun underneath the bridge have apparently caused the erosion that has affected the bridge.

“This bridge was built during the administration of the late Governor Diepriye Alamieyeseigha, almost 20 years ago, by the Federal Ministry of Works.

“We need to draw the Federal Government’s attention to this, while we embark on immediate remedial work to prevent its collapse.

I hereby direct …

“I hereby direct the Commissioner for Environment to ensure stoppage of dredging activities on the river. 

“I also direct the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure to commence immediate remedial work on the bridge to safeguard it for our people that ply this road to Ekpetiama communities, Amassoma, Igbedi, the Bayelsa Airport and other communities in this axis of the state,” he said.

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