Kingsley U.N. Chikwendu —
Nigerian Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola yesterday during the weekly ministerial briefing at the State House, Abuja, said the 2nd Niger Bridge linking South-east and South-south parts of the country is now 91 per cent nearing completion.
Mr Fashola admitted that the coronavirus pandemic that hit the world and the EndSARS protests that rocked the nation were some of the reasons the bridge, earlier projected to be completed by February 2022, was delayed.
The briefing which was to enable the minister provide further updates on key collaborations between the federal and state governments in the implementation of some of the major reforms being executed by the ministry and the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), listed the 2nd Niger Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan and the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria expressways as the main projects being executed through the PIDF.
The Minister added that two of the projects would be completed this year while the Abuja to Kano road would be completed next year.
“The Lagos-Ibadan expressway will be delivered this year, subject to how we navigate the pricing issues. Second Niger Bridge also this year, while the main carriageway of Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano expressway is scheduled for completion by the second quarter of 2023 before the president leaves office at the end of his tenure.
“There is ancillary work that cannot be finished next year; the service lanes and truck parks, toll plazas but that will continue because the funding is properly structured and the NSI is trying to mobilize some private capital now into the project,” said the Minister.
Fashola, 58 also said thousands of jobs have been created through the execution of the three projects.
“The three projects have been able to collectively create 5,246 direct jobs and 13,998 indirect jobs. This is a major link chain of the economic agenda of this country because right now people are getting something to do.
“If you analyze the GDP results sectorally, you will see that mining is thriving, you will see that the construction sector is booming, you will see petroleum products also booming, this is part of the reasons.
“And then you see the food vendors also making money because at each construction site, people must eat twice a day. A plate of food was N250 before the cost of living started going up.
“This is a major economic driver. We focus more on the roads but you will see the millions or hundreds of thousands of tons of cement that are churned out form the cement industry, where they are now working at full steam and many people are employed there.
“Each of these projects has a bank guarantee for the money they get and such guarantees are not given for free. The contracts also have a 7.5 percent Value Added Tax, which when collected, 85 percent of it goes to the States,” he said.