Nigeria: We Hope to Commission Second Niger Bridge Before 2023 - Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration hopes to complete and commission the Second Niger Bridge before the end of his tenure in 2023.

He said this while addressing a joint session of the National Assembly during the 2021 budget presentation.

The bridge, 11.9 kilometres long, is a double three-lane highway designed to connect Asaba and Onitsha in Delta and Anambra states.

The project is executed under the Presidential Infrastructural Development Plan, with the construction of the bridge funded by the three tiers of government through the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, in collaboration with private investors.

Although the contract was first awarded to Julius Berger PLC in 2016 and construction work commenced in November 2017, progress has been slow.

In his address, Mr Buhari explained the 2020 budget performance and his administration's key achievements in the past one year - part of which is the progress of work done on the Second Niger Bridge.

"The Second Niger Bridge is at about 46 percent completion. We hope to commission the project before the end of our tenure in 2023.

"We have awarded several contracts to rehabilitate, reconstruct and construct major arterial roads, in order to reduce the hardship to commuters and increase economic activity," he said.

To bridge the infrastructure deficit, Mr Buhari said the federal government is also implementing innovative financing strategies to pull-in private sector investment.

"The Infrastructure Company, which I recently approved, will become a world-class infrastructure development vehicle, wholly focused on making critical infrastructural investments in Nigeria.

"This Infrastructure Company will raise funding from the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, the Africa Finance Corporation, pension funds, as well as local and foreign private sector development financiers."

His assurance comes three months after the House of Representatives Committee on Works frowned at the slow pace of work by Julius Berger Construction Company in the handling of the bridge.

The committee had also accused Julius Berger of irregularities in securing the contracts, as it was without due procurement process and suggested that the road projects be split and shared among other companies to guarantee speedy completion.

The president also noted his administration is undertaking the construction and rehabilitation of over 780 kilometres of roads and bridges, nationwide, to be financed by the grant of tax credits to investing business.

Ongoing projects under this scheme include:

a. Construction and rehabilitation of Lokoja-Obajana-Kabba-Ilorin Road

Section II (Obajana-Kabba) in Kogi and Kwara states;

b. Construction of Apapa-Oworonshoki-Ojota Expressway in Lagos State; and

c. Construction of Bodo-Bonny Road with a bridge across the Opobo Channel in Rivers State.

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