December 7, 2022

Umuaka Times

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Akalites rejoice as 2nd River Niger Bridge is ready by April.

3 min read

Umuaka Times can confirm that several Akalites, Imolites and other citizens who live in the Southeastern and some South Southern parts of the country were in happy mood last week when the Federal Government of Nigeria announced that the much awaited Second Niger Bridge would be ready by April 2022 that is next month. According to the Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola who alongside with Labour Minister Chris Ngige and Ibrahim Gambari, the Chief of Staff to General Buhari, who paid an inspection visit at the new bridge, everything has successfully been put in place for the actualization of the April 22 date.

The correspondent of Umuaka Times who monitored the development filed in reports that during the inspection visit, the ministers and the Managing Director of Julius Berger, Mr. Lars Ritchter, took a walk covering the entire 1.6 kilometer bridge. Mr. Lars Ritchter confirmed that the bridge will be completed on the second day of April 2022.

While speaking on the developments arising from the new bridge, Works Minister, Babatunde Fashola informed the gathering comprised of Delta and Anambra states governments officials, that after the completion of the bridge, electricity supply to the area will be disconnected. The reason according to what Umuaka Times gathered was to reconnect the high tension wire which the new bridge has affected. He further informed the people that there will be no electricity supply in the area for a period of two weeks.

The old Niger Bridge which was constructed in the 1950s by the Netherlands Engineering Consultants (NEDECO), from The Hague, Holland, had been a source of deep worries and concerns to those using the bridge especially during Christmas and other festive periods. Last year, several Akalites and other commuters living in Lagos spent more than 3 hours at the bridge while coming home for Christmas. The traffic logjam which lasted from December 15, 2021 to the early days of January 2022 made it possible for several Akalites using the bridge during Christmas to spend 2 days on their trip to Igboland.

Umuaka Times gathered that at many occasions, pick-pockets and armed “area boys” have at several intervals cashed in on the opportunity created by the persistent traffic logjam at the old River Niger Bridge attacked, robbed and dispossessed several passengers of their belongings. Many Akalites coming home for Christmas last year reportedly spent several hours at the bridge. This development made some of them to vow never to travel by road again. An Akalite who did not want his name mentioned confirmed that he spent more than 3 hours at the bridge while coming home for Christmas last year. “Our bus arrived Asaba by 3 pm and we were happy that we had arrived on time but to our bad surprise, we left the bridge by 7 pm.”

There is a general optimism from certain quarters that the new Niger Bridge will reduce traffic congestion at the bridge area comprising the Onitsha and Asaba axis of the River Niger. Many motorists as it appears, will have the choice of choosing the bridge to follow while coming into Igboland from Asaba or while going out of Igboland from Onitsha.

The bad news about the second Niger Bridge Umuaka Times gathered, is that according to Babatunde Fashola, bridge users will make some payments to be allowed passage from the bridge. Several road observers, interstate transporters and businessmen have frowned at the pronouncement by the minister. Views from some certain quarters last week confirmed that the decision by the Federal Government to collect toll at the new bridge will certainly increase the cost of transportation of goods and passengers in the entire Southeast Nigeria. As it stands now, if what the federal ministers who visited the bridge last week said is anything to go by, it means that the campaign by politicians that, “I will give you a second Niger Bridge” has finally come to an end. Only time will tell.



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