Residents, motorists and groups in Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria have protested against the slow pace of work on the Second Niger Bridge.
They lamented that the delay was causing excruciating pains to commuters on a daily basis, especially at the Obosi-Oba axis of the road, which had been shrunk to only one lane as a result of the construction work.
DCO Global News
Published on May 5, 2022
By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka
The protesters noted that despite the one lane allocated to vehicles, the police still mounted checkpoints and extorted money from motorists, thereby stretching a 15-minute journey across the axis to as long as five hours.
The protesters called on Julius Berger, the company handling the project, to open up the Obosi end of the bridge to reduce the suffering of road users on the Onitsha-Owerri Road.
Early in March 2022, the Managing Director of Julius Berger, Mr Lars Ritchter, conducted some Federal Government dignitaries round on an inspection tour of the work on the bridge.
The dignitaries included the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari; Minister of Works and Housing, Alhaji Babatunde Fashola; and his Labour and Employment counterpart, Dr Chris Ngige.
Ritchter, while conducting them through work at the bridge, said work on the bridge would be completed on April 2.
Fashola, who later briefed journalists on that day, reiterated the completion date, saying, “April is the completion date. Earlier, I said it will end in February or latest end of the first quarter.”
But as of Tuesday when our correspondent visited the site, he observed that work was still ongoing.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters in Onitsha on Tuesday, Mr Dede Uzor, said the construction company closed the Obosi bridge bypass end of the road and diverted traffic to one side for almost two months, causing gridlock on the road and untold hardship to the people.
Uzor added that the company had failed to live up to its contractual agreement in the handling of the bridge.
He said, “The bypass was closed apparently to allow Julius Berger carry out construction work, but unfortunately, for the past two months, no work has been done on that road.
“They first gave December 2021 as the completion date of the bridge, then shifted it to February 2022.
“At another time, they shifted the completion date to April 2022, now they have moved the goal post to October 2022.”
Describing the continuous adjustment of the completion date of the bridge as a sign of unseriousness on the part of the construction company, the protesters asked the Federal Government to put pressure on Julius Berger to complete the project once and for all on or before October 2022.
They also urged the Federal Government to ensure that the construction company was well funded for the job.
By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka
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