The federal government has begun negotiations with contractors handling the construction of the second Niger Bridge at Onitsha, Anambra State, with a view to securing a reduction in the cost of the project.
Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, said the negotiations for a reduction in the cost of the bridge were necessitated by the fact that the exact figures for building the bridge, whose groundbreaking would be done soon, were now known.
He spoke in Abuja at the inauguration of the skywalk bridge connecting Blocks A and B of the ministry, and named Oziegbe, after him.
According to the initial contract terms, the contractor, Julius Berger along with its partner in the consortium, are to invest N100 billion while the federal government will bring 30 percent in equity that will come from money made available by the Subsidy Re-investment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).
The construction giant mobilised equipment to the site in July for preliminary work pending the finalisation of the contract for the bridge and its approach road estimated at 12.4 kilometres, with the bridge alone having a length of 1.8 kilometres.
“The second Niger Bridge has now been fully designed,” Onolememen told reporters in Abuja. “Now that the numbers are known, we are negotiating it downwards on the basis of our own objectives and financial plans, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Finance. We will soon do the groundbreaking.”
He added that the federal government was seeking to raise $2 billion from the private sector in the next two years to enable it undertake the funding of road construction projects nationwide since it could not provide the needed funds.
On the skywalk bridge constructed in the ministry, Onolememen explained that it was essential because it would facilitate inter-departmental movement between the two major wings of the ministry, and speed up the movement and treatment of files.
He said: “It will bring safety in the transaction of the business of the ministry. It is iconic because while our duty is to build bridges, here there is a divide between blocks. Now, with the completion of this bridge, it will bring about greater efficiency in the business of the ministry.”
By Patrick Ugeh