Work on the second Niger Bridge linking Asaba in Delta and Onitsha in Anambra, has reached 50 per cent completion, Mr Wkscont Ajani, Federal Controller of Works, Anambra, has said.
Ajani told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka on Thursday that 310 out of the 615 piles in the project had been driven in addition to one pipe culvert and four box culverts.
He said that seven pile caps at 100, 110, 120, 290, 300, 310, and 320 had also been completed.
“At the Asaba end, abutment has been completed while preparation of reinforcements for the piles, pile caps, pier stems and box culverts are in progress at the Onitsha main yard,” he said.
Ajani who did not state the current cost of the project said it was awarded to Julius Berger construction firm in 2014 at the initial cost of N200 billion.
The federal controller of works said that the contract had four years duration and was awarded under Public-Private-Partnership.
He noted that the first Niger Bridge was constructed in 1965 to achieve Federal Government’s policy of expansion and upgrading of transport facilities.
He said that the bride was built to support the nation’s development and economically link the then regions.
“However, since the construction, commuters and vehicles travelling on roads in the South-East have increased as a result of population growth, increased income and urbanisation,” he stated.
Ajani said because the existing Niger Bridge could no longer sustain the increasing volume of traffic, government decided to construct a second one.
The federal controller of works said the new bridge would form an important link within the key national transportation corridor.
He said it would provide a strategic access point for people of the south-east and the south-south zones in particular, and Nigeria in general.
“The benefits of the bridge include reduction in the strain on the current bridge infrastructure and easing traffic flow.
“It will improve safety and security in the area by potentially reducing traffic congestion; and improve the commercial viability of the immediate states and the country.
“Local residents will have opportunity to work on site during the construction phase, thereby improving their economic prospects.
“This will improve capacity building for young Nigerian engineers in different areas of engineering, especially highway engineering,” he said.
Ajani said the bridge would go a long way in improving the local content during its construction.
He also said that on completion, farmers in the area would have more access to a larger market within a reduced time frame.
NAN reports that the construction firm has commenced building of a new site yard at Ogbaru in Anambra to ensure ease of work.