Isaac Anumihe, Abuja

The Federal Government at the weekend, put  the cost of building the 2nd Niger Bridge at N414 billion, saying  the project would be completed in 2022.

Speaking at a town hall meeting with stakeholders of the project  at the bridge site in Asaba, the Minister  of Works and Housing Mr Babatunde Fashola, explained that while the cost of the bridge is estimated at N206 billion, the 2A and 2B roads will cost  about N208 billion.

He added that the Buhari administration is making the commitment even though the price of oil is now about $40 per barrel. He said that despite the delay caused by COVID-19 pandemic and initial disagreement with some members of the host communities around the project, the bridge  would be completed on schedule.

Commenting on the economic benefits of the project to Nigerians,  the Minister said that to build the bridge,  the contractors will be buying 644, 000 tonnes of aggregates.

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They require four million cubic metres of sand, 68,000  tonnes of cement, 19 million litres of diesel  all of which will be bought from people around the area who deal in such businesses. He further said that the contractor employed over 1,400 workers from the host communities.

With respect to compensations to host communities, the Minister appealed to the Governors of Anambra and Delta states to help engage with the communities to make it easier for the Federal Government to come to agreement with them. Fashola promised that the ministry will look into the ecological and environmental consequence of the project. “Clearly 2022 will be the delivery date for this project as already planned. We might miss a few weeks here and there but nothing substantial.  Let me assure you of Mr. President’s  commitment and the Federal Government’s commitment to this” he assured. The Minister, however, stressed the need for peaceful coexistence, sacrifice and patience  to ensure the completion of the project. “We need peace to finish this work. We need peaceful co-existence to finish this work. We also need some sacrifice. We have to give some things in order to get some things and we need some patience” he said.

In his remarks, the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who was represented by the Secretary to the state government  expressed profound appreciation to the Federal Government for the project while urging the minister to expedite action on some federal roads in the state.

Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State who delivered  the vote of thanks expressed gratitude to Buhari for keeping his words on the project and commended the Minister for his commitment to the work. He assured that he will ensure that there is peace in his state.

Earlier in his address, the Managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Dr. Las Weiser described the project as a key national infrastructure with immense economic benefits.