2nd Niger Bridge opens S’East for new business – FG
…Tips Loko-Oweto to curb Abuja gridlock
… Soludo, Okowa, Ngige, Uzodinma, others laud Buhari
THE Second Niger Bridge in Onitsha will open the entire South East Zone for new business opportunities that meet 21st century global economy.
Minister of Works and Housing, Babatund Fashola, stated this during the official commissioning of the facility in Onitsha, which was performed via Zoom by President Muhammadu Buhari.
President Buhari in his address before the inauguration expressed delight at being able to provide the bridge, saying that it will promote economic growth for the people.
“Getting out of poverty is much more difficult without infrastructure investment. This reflects our administration’s emphasis on the well-being of the people. The Second Niger Bridge is now a reality, and it will provide business efficiency and service in a timely manner.” he said.
Also explaining that the new business vista to be afforded South East by the bridge will first arise from reduction of long man-hour hitherto lost to snarling traffic gridlock in Onitsha as gateway to other states in the zone.
According to Fashola, Second Niger Bridge will make it easier for travellers to spend a few minutes, instead of hours to cross River Niger which covers about 1.5 kilometres.
Fashola said that Loko-Oweto Bridge, which the federal government also commissioned on Tuesday, would reduce travel time to Abuja by four hours.
“Today, Mr. President will connect Benue to Nasarawa on the Loko – Oweto Bridge, Cross River to Benue on Ikom Bridge and Anambra to Delta on the Second Niger Bridge, and literally connect many parts of Nigeria to themselves. In the same vein, we link Kano to Kaduna on the Kaduna-Kano highway and impact Zamfara, Bayelsa and Anambra directly through the Secretariats. This is a story of development and a story of people, all of which cannot be fully told here. But I will try; starting from the president and the commander-in-chief whose leadership, support and opportunity afforded us to serve has made all these possible. The story of the cabinet members from the vice president and my colleague ministers whose support for the various memoranda in council made these projects possible. Some of those memoranda you spent hours to debate and approve have yielded some fruit. Our legislators in both chambers of parliament were part of the story. They appropriated, they approved where necessary and oversight all through the project; but they never obstructed. The state governors, their commissioners and their traditional rulers are a story that must be told about how federal, state government and traditional institutions can and must work together to deliver development and prosperity,” he said.
Dignitaries that graced the occasion were Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, President of Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyawu, among others.
Meanwhile, leaders of South East have lauded Buhari on the full completion and commissioning of the bridge.
Describing Second Niger Bridge as a fundamental change that will catalyse new wave of prosperity and economic growth in South-East region, Anambra State Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo said he was personally overjoyed because the people of the South East have long advocated for infrastructural development.
“President Buhari, the South-East will remember you as you leave office. It will not be a mistake to refer to Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola, as ‘Mr. Infrastructure’ because he indeed a fulfilled promise. We express our heartfelt gratitude for connecting Anambra, Asaba, and Delta,” Soludo said.
Also, Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, extolled Buhari for completing Second Niger Bridge and other infrastructural projects in South East despite that the people failed to vote for the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).
“We have cried to many government for years yet the projects were not done. The state of the First Niger Bridge make it difficult for our people returning for Christmas and other festivities to sometimes spend five days or more on the road. We thank President Buhari for delivering the projects even though he begged for our votes but we didn’t give him our votes. He is a hero to me and people of South East,” he said.
In his won commendation, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige said that the Southern part of Nigeria would remember the Buhari’s administration as the projects would reduce the cost of governance and transportation as well.
It will be recalled that Second Niger Bridge links Anambra and Delta States to other states in western and northern parts of the federation.