Nigeria’s Federal Government has said it was looking to completing the second Niger Bridge project by 2022.
This was as it revealed that a total amount of N33 billion has so far been released for the implementation of the project estimated to gulp about N220 billion.
This was disclosed by the Managing Director (MD) Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, Mr. Uche Orji, when he spoke shortly after an inspection of the project in the company of Obi of Onitsha, Nnaemeka Achebe, and some of the Obi’s chiefs.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan had in 2014 awarded the project to Julius Berger Plc. It has however being experiencing delays due to various challenges which had affected its timely implementation.
But Orji speaking after inspecting the project said he was hopeful the project, meant to be completed with about N220bn, was not going to experience further delay, adding that the private sector funding for the project was being planned to be raised by 2020 through bond and equity.
According to him, a Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, to be managed by the NSIA, had already been set up for five critical road and power projects across the country.
Orji explained that the PIDF, with a seed funding of $650 million, was targeted to catalyse funding for the Second Niger Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan expressway, East-West road, Abuja to Kano road, and Mambilla Hydroelectric Power.
He added that the PIDF would eliminate the risks of project funding, cost variation and completion that have inundated the progress of the nation’s critical infrastructure assets.
“The Second Niger Bridge project was conceived to provide an alternative crossing between Asaba and Onitsha within reasonable distance from the current.
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“It is expected to spur an increase in investments, agriculture and trade particularly with the Onitsha Main Market in the region, due to the improved and quicker access.
“There are three phases of the second Niger bridge. The first one is the 11.9 kilometer bridge connecting Asaba and Onitsha. The entire work is a 44km project.
“The mobilisation for the project was released in August. We are confident that the funding is more stable now and we are looking at a completion date of 2022, it’s a big project,” Orji said.