HomeNewsSecond-Niger Bridge Unusable Until N260bn More Expenditure, Says Minister

Second-Niger Bridge Unusable Until N260bn More Expenditure, Says Minister

The Minister of Works, Dave Umahi, has said the Second Niger Bridge, recently completed and handed over to the ministry by Julius Berger cannot be used now until the two bypasses in Asaba (Delta State) and Onitsha (Anambra State) were completed.

He however lamented that the construction of the bypasses could cost about N260 billion, that was not available now.

Speaking when he appeared before the National Assembly joint committee on Works for the 2024 budget defence, Umahi said of the project, “Additionally, there remains the construction of the approach roads 2A and 2B which were awarded by FEC (Federal Executive Council) but have funding challenges to start.

“The remaining two bypasses in Asaba (2A) and Onitsha (2B) awarded to Julius Berger Nigeria Plc and Reynolds Construction Company Nigeria Ltd. respectively during the last administration were initially estimated at about N200 billion.

“Now with inflation, the cost may be up to N260 billion. There is no funding for these projects and the projects have not taken off. Let me note that without these bypasses, the completed Second Niger Bridge will be almost inoperative.”

The Senate however frowned on the non-completion of road projects by contractors across the country.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Works, Mpigi Barinada, who frowned on the attitude of some contractors, said the Senate would ensure that there was no wastage of government’s funds.

He stated, “We frown on a situation where contractors will be mobilised, and on visiting their sites by virtue of oversight of the projects, most of those sites you won’t find contractors. For instance, the contractor handling the rehabilitation of Aba-Owerri Road, Abia State, has been mobilised. As we speak, he has not done any job. He has collected about N76m.

“The rehabilitation of 21km Bende in Abia linking Akwa-Ibom State; the contractor has been paid N445m, no performance.”

Also, the Chairperson, Senate Committee on Local Content, Mrs Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, said about N336 billion had been spent on the second Niger Bridge but that they were “told that the bridge will stay inoperative if we do not have two critical roads completed and that, as stated, will amount to N260 billion.

“This has not been provided for in terms of funding. It is also important that you deploy a holistic approach in deciding the road networks in Nigeria so that we don’t have item A and B completed and therefore item A and C that are critical to the function of B will not be fixed.

“The Abuja-Lokoja-Auchi Road has been under construction for over 20 years. Year in, year out, we have observed budgetary provisions but it has not been completed and several lives have been lost almost on a daily basis. It connects approximately 20 states, and looking at the budget, the only thing I have seen that connects Okene is special repair of Okene-Ajaokuta-Itakpe Road at N10m.

“We should take this road, the Abuja-Lokoja Okene-Auchi, road as a priority.”

Akpoti-Uduaghan said further that as much as possible, raw materials for road construction should be sourced locally.

Earlier, Umahi said in 2023, the ministry generated N723 million as revenue from January to November, adding that the revenue realised had been remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Account.

He said N657 billion was proposed for the ministry and its parastatals for capital, personnel and overhead estimates in the 2024 Appropriation Bill.

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