Humane opening of 2nd Niger Bridge
FROM today, Thursday December 16, 2022 to January 15, 2023, Nigerians travelling to the Eastern parts of the country will have the rare and exciting privilege of riding on the brand new Second Niger Bridge. The Federal Government declared this bonanza to eastward travellers as a Christmas package.
According to the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the temporary opening of the bridge which is at 95 per cent completion, to enable Yuletide travellers avoid the usual harrowing experience of traffic gridlocks at both the Onitsha and Asaba ends of the River Niger.
However, it will not yet be a free for all. Only those travelling from Asaba and seeking to avoid Onitsha can use the bridge to empty out at the bypass into Onitsha-Owerri Expressway and through Obosi towards Enugu. On January 15, 2023, the movement will be reversed to enable only those moving from the East to the West to use the bridge. According to Fashola: “We have told all the contractors that they shouldn’t open anymore sections for construction, that is, there shouldn’t be any barrier on the roads this season”.
While we thank the Federal Government for this kind gesture, we would suggest it takes another look at the date for the reversed traffic flow from the East to West. January 15 is too far to be of much benefit for Yuletide season travellers. By then, much of the seasonal travel would have petered out. People are still going to suffer at the Onitsha end of the old bridge because the reverse flow starts as from January 2.
We suggest that the reverse flow starts from January 1, 2023 and terminates on the 15th to enable the contractors finish work on the bridge.
The completion of the Second Niger Bridge will surely go down as one of the outstanding infrastructural achievements of the Buhari administration. Previous administrations had merely used it as a campaign handle until the regime of President Goodluck Jonathan took the project off the ground. Buhari pursued its completion with uncommon zeal and can rightly take the credit for accomplishing it.
This gesture of opening it to ease the travel ordeals of the people is specially appreciated because it runs against the grain of government’s typical insensitiveness to road users plights on construction sites.
A very sore example is the harrowing times that motorists and commuters experience on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Same applies to the many construction sites of the Lagos State government. The pace of work is maddeningly slow, and the contractors don’t care. It is as if the public is being made to pay a price for the roads being constructed for them.
Once again, we thank the Federal Government for the Niger Bridge Christmas gift.