President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday performed the ground breaking ceremony of the second Niger Bridge.
The second bridge which is expected to link business arteries of the South East with the South West and North is being executed on Private Public Partnership (PPP) arrangement for a concession period of 25 years through Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) model.
Below is the full text of President Jonathan’s speech at the ceremony:
“It is always a great pleasure to be in this our historic city of Onitsha. In August 2012, I was here to inspect and commission the Onitsha Inland River Port Complex, which followed the dredging of the River Niger. On my last visit, just few weeks ago, I promised to return shortly, and in keeping with that promise, I am here today for the ground-breaking ceremony of the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge.
You will recall that during my electoral campaigns in 2011, I promised the good people of the South-East that if elected President, I would ensure that the 2nd River Niger Bridge is constructed. Today, I have come, as your President, to flag-off of this vital Bridge project, in order to move that solemn pledge, from sincere promise to concrete reality.
As part of our administration’s Transformation Agenda in the road sector, we have set out to construct two very important new bridges, across our Nation’s two great rivers – the River Niger and River Benue. These are the Loko-Oweto Bridge linking Nassarawa and Benue States, which is progressing satisfactorily, and this 2nd Niger Bridge, connecting Anambra and Delta States. The 2nd Niger Bridge, whose foundation we are laying today, represents a strategic national infrastructure, with great socio-economic prospects for the contiguous States, and indeed, for the entire Nation. It is an important economic artery that will connect the great markets of Onitsha and Aba, as well as the industrial hub of Nnewi and beyond, to both the Northern and Southern parts of our country.
On completion, this bridge, which is being constructed almost 50 years after the existing bridge opened to traffic, will alleviate the pains experienced by travellers as a result of congestion of the old bridge, particularly during festive periods. It will massively improve road transportation in the South-East of Nigeria, and also reduce travel times substantially, in this part of the country.
This project has been programmed in strict compliance with the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission Act, and the Public Procurement Act. No stone has been left unturned in ensuring the success of the project, considering the several unsuccessful attempts by past administrations to deliver this vital bridge.
The Federal Government is executing this project under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement for a concession period of 25 years, precisely, through a ‘Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT)’ model. We are confident in the capacity and competence of the Concessionaire, Messrs Julius Berger-NSIA Consortium, to deliver on this project, at the construction cost of about N117 Billion Naira. To facilitate timely delivery, the Federal Government has made a commitment to contribute 25% of the construction cost, in the sum of N30 Billion.
Let me commend Governor Peter Obi, whose tenure ends in a few days, Governor Uduaghan, and all the people and host communities, for their patience, understanding, support and cooperation in the realisation of the commencement of this project.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as we commemorate our centenary of nationhood, it is my firm belief that this bridge will deepen national integration and also enhance economic and social interaction among other parts of our country and the South-East.
Next week Monday, in Abuja, I shall be inaugurating the National Conference, and it seems appropriate that this bridge, and the Conference, two major emblems of National cohesion, are being inaugurated within the same period. I would like to assure you all that every effort will be made to ensure that this 2nd Niger Bridge is delivered.
Your Excellencies, Royal Highnesses, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is now my honour to flag-off the construction works of the 2nd Niger Bridge for the benefit of our great Nation.
I thank you”.