The ground -breaking for the second Niger Bridge will take place in March next year, President Goodluck Jonathan has assured.
There have several promises made by successive administrations on the construction of the Second Niger Bridge, but none was matched with action. President Goodluck Jonathan, who was in Anambra State Thursday on a one-day visit, promised massive road rehabilitation and construction in the Southeast.
He said the first Niger Bridge was built by Nigeria’s First President, the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, and that he looked forward to God to give “another Azikwe” the opportunity to build the second Niger Bridge.
The President, who addressed a town hall meeting at the Anambra State Government Lodge in Onitsha, mandated the ministers who accompanied him to give details of government plans for the Southeast.
Works Minister Mike Onolememen said: “I want to assure you that procurement has been on for the past 10 months. Seven international concessionaires have indicated interests for developing the Second Niger Bridge.’’
According to him, each of the seven firms has the capacity to deliver on the project, which will begin in March, next year. He said the bridge was designed in such a way that it would look like a bye pass with link roads to Onitsha-Enugu Express way and Owerri-Onitsha expressway.
The Federal Government had approved N18billion for the reconstruction of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway and the money is ready for contractors to access and start the job, the minister said.
Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala assured the people of the region that the money to deliver the second Niger Bridge is available as the Sure P investment would be dedicated to it. She said the World Bank has given the Federal Government $450million loan to tackle erosion in the Southeast. The loan has a 10 years grace period and 40 years repayment period with zero interest.
The N4.6 billion Onitsha Inland Port complex was inaugurated amidst cheers by President Jonathan. He promised that his administration would bring reasonable changes to the economy before the end of his tenure. Jonathan commended the indigenous company Inter Bau limited for good job done at the port, promising more government patronage for the company.
Jonathan restated the government’s determination to transform the economy in all sectors, but urged Nigerians to be patient as it will take some time to accomplish the set developmental objectives. He said the government would do the required to reduce cost of transportation by developing the key inland ports.
Anambra State Governor Peter Obi described the Onitsha port as important as it will reduce the weight which the roads are carrying and create jobs for the teeming youths. Obi said the coming of Onitsha Inland Port marks the beginning of the rebirth of the ancient city.
President Jonathan also inaugurated the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu Gateway in Onitsha. He said the gateway stood as a symbol of unity in the Southeast and prayed that the cause for which the late Biafran leader fought would not be in vain.