After many years of delay, President Jonathan has finally laid the foundation stone for the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge. While most of Nigeria’s economic attention is focused in key regions like Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. It is a breath of fresh air to see that another region in the country is getting it’s own taste of economic and social development. The worn out 49 year Old River Niger Bridge shown above can testify.
Julius Berger, the same contractors behind the Lekki-Ikoyi Link bridge in Lagos were selected to construct this bridge under a Public Private Partnership (PPP). The bridge will link Asaba in Delta State with Onitsha in Anambra State and it is expected that this project will take 48 months to complete – less ambiguously, 4 years! The 2nd Niger Bridge is 1,590m and forms part of the 12km length project which will cost N117bn, almost half a billion pounds!
Goodluck Jonathan was keen on performing the ground-breaking ceremony before the exit of the Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, who had worked very hard to ensure the project was realised. Undeniably, the President left it to the last minute as Governor Obi’s 8 year tenure was ending a week after the ground ceremony was completed in March. The President said the 2nd Niger Bridge was critical to his administration’s resolve to improve the economic fortunes of the country, and described it as a fulfilment of one of his campaign promises. The Minister for Works added that the project was part of the President’s transformation agenda to improve the infrastructural and socio-economic activities of the nation.
This is an issue that needs spearheading by government as vast income inequality and very badly skewed wealth distribution numbers plague the country. While Lagos and Abuja receive most of the infrastructural and economic development other states and regions are left in isolation with practically no hope of growing their economic status. According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, Kano – Nigeria’s 2nd most populous city had an unemployment rate of 60%+ in 2011! However, recent real estate/property investments like the new Ado Bayero Mall have brought good employment prospects for the state.
All things considered we are impressed to see the development of the 2nd Niger Bridge. Though those who have invested a lot into the project may exaggerate the economic benefits it may bring, this new bridge that was described as a gateway to the Southern Part of Nigeria will boost economic activity in the region. However, it will take a lot more similarly commendable projects from the government for the country to begin to work towards equal wealth distribution and less income inequality.