Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bolts and Nuts stolen from Niger Bridge

My approach to the historical River Niger Bridge, the main link between the West and the East of Nigeria was a great relief after spending close to ten hours on a journey that would usually be done in three. The Niger bridge links the Oil rich Delta State with the vibrantly commercial city of Onitsha in Anambra State. Even though I still had to spend another three hours (normally a 10 mins journey) to cross into Onistsha and link the Owerri road, one really wondered why after all these years a second or twin bridge had not been built. I recently stumbled on the following interview with the current Minister of Works in Nigeria;

What are the challenges confronting the building of the Second River Niger Bridge?

Work is in progress and we are confronting the challenges of the River Niger Bridge that I mentioned earlier. Sometime ago, we heard rumors that the bridge was giving way and we sent a team of consultants there to do some investigation on the bridge. Surprisingly, one of the major challenges we had with our roads and bridges is the issue of abuse.

The Niger Bridge has been heavily abused by Nigerians with over 1,100 bolts and nuts removed by Nigerians. And that is why at a time, if you were driving on the Niger Bridge, you could feel the vibration. When this was discovered, the ministry moved in quickly and contracted Setraco to do some maintenance work on the bridge. As I speak, over 1,100 bolts and nuts have been replaced on that bridge, but it is saddening when you reflect on the fact that those bolts and nuts were removed by Nigerians, who are more interested in their pecuniary gains without even thinking about the general well being of the people that make use of the bridge.

This abuse of our bridges is not limited to the Niger Bridge. If you look at the picture of the Third Mainland Bridge today, many of the metallic hand rails have gone. They were not removed by spirits, they were removed by Nigerians; if you go to the Benin/Ore Road now, there is a spot where accidents regularly occur, where vehicles always fall into the river, each time you are travelling past Ore.
It is normal to hear that a bus has plunged into the river and 16 people died. Given this scenario, we have also responded to this challenge by insisting that in all our bridges, balustrades should be made with concrete, and we are now putting in place concrete balustrades. If you go to the Gwagwalada New Bridge that we just constructed, the balustrades are no longer made of iron, but concrete, although they hardly add the same aesthetic value as the other previous metal ones, but prevailing circumstances have forced us to use this to meet those challenges. This is proof of the fact that Nigerians lack aesthetic values.

Yes, we have a master plan for the Second Niger Bridge, as we speak, in the next couple of weeks we shall be running an advertorial on the Second Niger Bridge. Work on the bridge is obviously in progress; we have initiated discussions with the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank, as we are talking. We are just at the preparatory stage; when we come to the construction stage, then it becomes an issue that should be considered beyond the ministry. I can assure you, the Second Niger Bridge will take off next year.

“Excerpts from an interview with Honorable Minister Mike Onolememen”

source: thisdaylive

1 comment:

Emma said...

Seeing is believing, we have been hearing of this bridge for more than two decades. We shall make use of the bridge in our graves.