The Federal government has come up with an explanation on the ongoing repair and maintenance of the old Niger Bridge, saying it was never intended to short-change the construction of the second bridge.
Instead, it said it was to avert disasters that would result from the over use of the bridge, bearing in mind the fact that it was constructed over 60 years ago.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola said while efforts were been made to complete the second bridge, it would not be sensible for the present administration to allow the old bridge collapse and endanger both lives and socio-political and economic activities of the country.
From the statement issued from the minister’s office, Fashola, who spoke through the Director, Highways, (Bridges and Design), Engineer Adetokunbo Sogbesa, said the bridge remained a vital link for East/ West and other parts of the country and would not be left to collapse.
“The President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration cannot fold its hands and watch the Niger Bridge, which was built in the 1950s, to collapse but must mobilize resources towards its repairs and maintenance.
“The Federal Government is mindful of the fact that the Bridge remains the vital East-West link which has enhanced both socio-political and economic activities in the country, and as such, should not be allowed to collapse”, he said.
The Minister further disclosed that the repairs were necessitated by discovery that erosion had eaten deep into the foundation of the bridge and vital components of the bridge had also been vandalized.
He said: “The foundation of the existing Niger Bridge is facing serious erosion challenge and to replace the vandalized bolts, nuts and rails in order to ensure that Nigerians have smooth and safe thorough fare, while construction work on the second Niger Bridge, which is intended to reduce the excess load on the old bridge and improve ease traffic flow of goods and services, in Nigeria.”
“The second Niger Bridge which is 1.59 km in length comprises of four sections namely: the Asaba Road, the Toll Plaza, the bridge and the Onitsha Road section.”