By ONUEGBU PERPETUA
NASARAWA STATE- The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, says the construction of Loko-oweto bridge and the second Niger bridge demonstrates the Buhari administration’s commitment to infrastructure development.
Fashola said this at the inspection of the completed Loko-oweto bridge and the linking roads section 1 and section 2 in Nassarawa State on Tuesday.
According to him, this is another intervention of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in infrastructure.
He said there was a lot of emotion and excitement about the second Niger bridge but people forgot that it crosses the river Niger and it was an East-West crossing linking the east to the west of Nigeria.
”There is also a major river in Nigeria: the River Benue and that is the North-South crossing so whilst there is a lot of publicity and excitement about the second Niger bridge.
“Understandably, perhaps not enough attention has been given to the Loko- oweto bridge, this is the bridge that crosses the River Benue.
“The point is that this has been a very defining intervention and the administration is able to show that we have built two major bridges across the two major rivers in the country connecting people, connecting the country, and facilitating trade.
“You will see that even before formally opening the bridge, there’s a lot of trucks and buses passing through, the reason they’re choosing this place is because it’s four hours saving.
“We have over 70 kilometers of road linking Benue State to Nasarawa State you have 74 kilometers of road linking Benue and Nasarawa into the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, so this bridge has been finished,” he said.
Fashola said that the bridge had been completed about two years now but had not been opened to traffic because of the connection of the linking roads which was now substantially finished.
“I think I can go and report to Mr President now that this bridge is ready to be formally opened to traffic but it is important to inform Nigerians that those who speak about production and about the economy should come here and learn what infrastructure does.
“You can’t produce without infrastructure, you can’t drive an economy without infrastructure so, they should come here. This bridge is actually the real test case that demonstrates the importance the president attach to infrastructure in way of boosting our economic growth.
“In 2016, it used to take four and half hours from Mabuchi in Abuja to get here, the main problem was the 74 kilometers road part of which we’re standing on now. That road is essentially finished and it took about 30 mins to travel this road.
“It used to take two hours, so the journey from Mabuchi to here now is two hours from four hours but that is only part of the story,” he said.
The minister further said that before 2016, there was nothing on the road but because of the bridge now markets, eateries, mills and mining sites were fully operational, bringing about economic exchange.
He also said there were two bridges; one about 2.055 kilometers and the other about 800 meters traversing the entire length of the river and that the bridge may be delivered in about two months time.
On the Abuja-Keffi Express way, Fashola also said the part that was not included in the contract between the Maraba-Keffi, the ministry was working to procure it to afford for a full completion of the road.
“There’s has been a substantial intervention and you’re looking at about 220 kilometers of road so, we’re short in some places about 40 kilometers that we still haven’t awarded but it’s process compared to how we met it,” he said.
Speaking at the inspection, Alhaji Shuaibu Umar, the Area Council Chairman, Loko, commended the government for the construction of the bridge.
“We really appreciate the Federal Government and as you can see, the community is developing virtually everyday.
“Even the price of our land in the community is higher, people in Abuja and other communities are coming to acquire land for business and to establish industries and other economic activities”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the project started in 2016 is funded by SUKUK IV funds and it is constructed by RCC, a Chinese company. (NAN)