The minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has said that the priority of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is to open the second Niger bridge to traffic by December this year.
The Second Niger Bridge which was conceived several years ago before the advent of the Buhari administration became reality following the decision of the Federal Government through the Ministry of Works and Housing to ensure that a new bridge is put in place to replace the over 50 year old Second Niger Bridge constructed by the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe.
Mr Fashola who spoke Tuesday morning while featuring on TVC’s Breakfast show, added that the entire stretch of the bridge has been completed.
The former Lagos state governor explained that the second Niger bridge is made up of two component parts – the bridge itself and other link roads.
He further explained that while the link roads at the Onitsha axis of the bridge have been completed, the Asaba link roads are yet to be completed because the ministry is currently settling issues of compensations, but assured that engineers are currently working on site.
“Our priority is to open the second Niger bridge to traffic by December so that those travelling for the season will do so at ease. The second Niger bridge is made up of two component parts – the bridge itself and the link roads. The entire stretch of the bridge is completed.
“The link roads at the Onitsha axis of the bridge have also been completed. Where we are having some issues is the link roads at the Asaba axis of the bridge. We are currently sorting issues relating to payment of compensation to affected communities but as I speak, engineers are on site working and the sand filling is ongoing.
“We are committed to opening the bridge to traffic by December and I can assure you that with level of work done, the set target will be met.”
Mr Fashola who also addressed issues relating to housing, said the while ministry has significantly inaugurated a large number of housing units across the country, he explained that a major aspect of housing sector, which is land, is exclusively controlled by the state.
He urged the state governments to partner the federal government in this aspect so as to make affordable housing for the populace.
The minister of also cleared the air on comments he made on the protest embarked on by the National Association of Nigerian Students, said he never described the protest by the students body as illegal, rather the blockage of the Lagos-Ibadan road.
Mr Fashola said while every Nigerian has the right to a peaceful protest, it is against the law to block road while exercising such right.
“I was a governor; I managed protests, I was a student and protested but blocking the road is a different thing. The right to a peaceful protest is guaranteed but the idea of barricading/blocking the road is illegal. There’s nowhere in the world that such will be encouraged.”
Speaking on the East-West road, the minister said in last seven years, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has been in-charge of the East-West road.
“Until this year when I received a memo from the president to take charge of the East-West road, it has always been under the ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. And there was a formal handing over ceremony between myself and Senator Godswill Akpabio. But apart from that, there are some of the checks we need to carryout so as to confirm the true state of things.”
Meanwhile, the minister said he has directed Kopek Construction Ltd, the contractor handling the construction of the 108 kilometres Ibadan–Ife–Ilesa road project to reduce the inconveniences being experienced by motorists and travellers. He also directed the contractor to do some palliative works on the bad sections of the road.
Mr Fashola said he gave the directive when he led other Directors in the ministries on the tour. He also inspected the 52 kilometres Oyo–Ogbomoso dual carriageway, as well as the 28 kilometres Iseyin–Okeho Road projects.
He expressed concern over the gridlock on some sections of Ibadan – Ife- Ilesa Road, such as new Gbagi, Alakia Adegbayi, Celica and Tollgate areas.
The minister directed the contractor to urgently carry out palliative works on the sections and other areas that call for such urgent intervention.
He said since the end of the year movement would soon start, there was a need for the contractor to ensure that the sections of the road were motorable.
He said that the Federal Government’s commitment to reconstruct the road and other roads across the country made it “to award Ibadan-Ife Road.