Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge Now To Be Completed In 2022 – Fashola

 

 

The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway will now be completed in the first quarter of 2022, Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola, said on Thursday.

The road project, awarded to Julius Berger Nigeria and Reynolds Construction Company Limited (RCC), at a sum of 167 billion naira, was earlier scheduled to be finished in 2021.

Fashola, in an appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today, said the delay was due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has slowed construction activities and affected government revenues.

The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is part of projects funded under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund.

Other projects under the fund include the Second Niger Bridge and the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Highway

On Thursday, Mr. Fashola confirmed all three projects are expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2022.

“As I speak to you now, we have lost essentially the prime of our working period which is the dry season in the Covid period,” he said. “We have to regain and recover all of that.

“We have also lost some of our expected revenue plans. At the time Covid hit Nigeria, we were doing 2.59 percent growth rate. Now we are heading for a recession globally and Nigeria will not be insulated from that.

“We are working on plans to bring the economy back on track.”

Mr Fashola noted that while work was suspended during the coronavirus lockdown, earnest efforts were made to resume once the federal government started to lift restrictions.

Some 11 contractors executing 53 projects in 26 states were “remobilised back to site in the first week of the easing of the lockdown,” Fashola said.

“We had to work with the Governor to allow men and materials to move,” he added. “We also had to develop new safety guidelines for the construction.”

Much with less

Assessing the efforts of the Buhari administration over five years on improving road infrastructure across the country, Fashola said much had been done with very little.

“Given the circumstances and the results, we have done a lot much more with less resources,” he said.

He cited refunds – near N700bn – made by the federal government to states for federal road projects worked on since 1999.

A file photo of Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola
A file photo of Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola

 

“These are debts that the previous government handed over at the time oil was selling at over $100 per barrel,” Fashola said.

“Those roads were neglected then. These governments have inherited them at the time when revenues have dropped significantly, sometimes to as low as $20 per barrel.

“With much less resources, we have committed to more radical infrastructure development across Nigeria. So as I speak to you now, we are executing 600 road projects across all the states.

“We are in universities repairing internal roads that have been left behind.

“The Abuja-Kaduna highway is under construction, so is the Bodo-Bonny bridge. Second Niger-Bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

“What is the impact? Although we haven’t finished, any road user today will tell you that their journey times have been improved, compared to when we resumed on the major highways.”

‘Focus On Your Own Roads’

On Wednesday, the federal government said it will no longer pay states for constructing federal government roads.

“What the states have done is that they have spent money on roads that have become integral to the development of their cities,” Fashola, a former Governor of Lagos state, said.

But after paying back nearly N700bn to states for federal road projects, the Buhari administration will no longer make refunds, Fashola stressed.

“So what the president has done is to say I will pay the inherited debt, I promised to do so. And he has kept his promise. But please leave my roads alone, go and face your own roads, don’t impose priorities for me, I have mine.

“From January 2016, all the states were notified – don’t touch federal roads again if you want a refund. If you do not want a refund and you want to do it, take permission, approval from the Ministry of Works.

“Because the states too have not completed all their roads, neither have the local governments; we are now focusing on over 600 roads that will impact lives in a very positive way.”

How Abacha Loot Will Be Managed

In 2020, the federal government recovered $308m looted by military dictator, Sani Abacha, and pledged it towards the construction of three key infrastructure projects – the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kano Expressway and the Second Niger bridge.

On Thursday, Fashola explained that the funds are not domiciled in the Ministry of Works.

Instead, the funds go into the sovereign wealth fund, managed by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, Fashola said.

“I can’t confirm whether the money is ready because it didn’t come to my ministry,” he said. “It was released to the Nigerian government through the Central bank and I believe on to the NSIA.

“So what happens simply is that the contractor does his work. Our staff, from the controller to the directors at the ministry, provide technical governance to make sure that the work is properly done, certified, and then we send the certificate that we validate to the NSIA.

“The NSIA also have their own technical consultants who crosscheck; and if they are satisfied, they pay.

“That is how we have done it in the past 18 months and these funds, when they come in, if they come in, will not change the governance process.

“And there are plans by the attorney-general to also expand the governance process and oversight for it. What we are concerned about is making money work for Nigerians.”

FG Signs Tripartite Agreement To Repatriate $318m Abacha Loot

File Photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

The Federal Government has signed an agreement with the United States of America and the Island of Jersey to repatriate the sum of $318,460,329 looted and stashed away by former Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.

According to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ferdinand Nwonye, the agreement was sealed on Monday at the United States Department of States, Washington DC.

He stated that the Federal Government intends to use the recovered loot to fund three major projects, namely, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Abuja – Kano Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge and will be supervised by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority.

READ ALSO: Buhari, Lawan, Gbajabiamila Discuss Nigeria’s Security

 

Nigerian delegates at the Nigeria-US Bi-National Commission 2020 in Washington DC. Photo:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria

 

The agreement was signed by the Attorney General of the Federation Mr Abubakar Malami on behalf of the Federal Government, Mr Mark Temple, Assistant Solicitor General of the Island of Jersey and Mr Kevin Drisioil, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the US Department of Justice on behalf of the Government of the United States signed the treaty.

Mr Nwonye also revealed that the agreement was witnessed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and his counterparts from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment; Humanitarian Affairs, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, the National Security Adviser, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Group Managing Director of NNPC, and the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States of America, among others.

The delegates had travelled on Sunday for the annual three-day meeting of the United States-Nigeria Bi-national Commission in Washington DC.

The meeting is aimed at reviewing bilateral relationship and taking the necessary steps to advance mutual interest in all diplomatic areas among the two countries.

Why FG Is Taking Second Niger Bridge Construction Seriously – Osinbajo

 

The Federal Government has said that the Second Niger Bridge is important to the Nigerian economy and the project will be delivered on schedule.

This was made known by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was quoted in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Laolu Akande on Friday, after inspecting the progress work at the Asaba end of the bridge.

According to the Vice President, the bridge and other infrastructural projects across the country are critical to the economic agenda of the President Buhari administration.

“The Second Niger Bridge is so important for the economy of the South East and for the Nigerian economy, and of course, it’s not just the bridge, there are the access roads, which are also very important.

“It is obvious so much progress has been made here. It is an important project that the President is committed to completing. In the past 18 months or so, a lot of work has been done and I came to see for myself.

“As you can see, the foundation goes all the way down, and this is just the Asaba end of the bridge. There is also the Anambra end of the bridge, so it is a lot of work. There are a huge number of people who are also benefiting in various ways.”

READ ALSO: We Cannot Deliver Good Governance Without A Free Press – Saraki

The Vice President also noted that the commitment of the Buhari administration to complete strategic infrastructure projects that will improve the nation’s economy necessitated the creation of the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF).

“There are some critical infrastructures that we consider very strategic to our economic plan and which, through this fund, we hope to complete. One of the reasons why projects were hardly ever completed was because there was not enough money going into the projects. That is why the President has decided that we must have a fund for all of these projects, which is the PIDF, and we also have a smooth sailing process.”

Osinbajo explained that “the PIDF, an initiative of President Buhari administration, has projects being executed to include; the Kano-Abuja expressway, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the Mambila hydro project, amongst others.

“The good thing is that the President has set aside the funds, the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, which is a fund dedicated to certain strategic projects, including the Second Niger Bridge,” he added.

Video: Osinbajo Inspects Work On Second Niger Bridge

 

Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Friday, inspected ongoing work on the Second Niger Bridge.

Prof Osinbajo inspected the Asaba end of the 11.59-kilometre bridge, saying that he has no fears that the present administration will complete the multi-billion naira project by the end of its four-year tenure.

Osinbajo noted that the successful completion of the structure is paramount because it will boost not only the economy of the southeast but that of the entire country.

READ ALSO: Osinbajo Monitors TraderMoni Activities In Anambra

The vice president who took time to get details as he walked the entire stretch of the road on an inspection tour of the six-lane bridge under construction, equated the project to an eighteen-storey building.

So far, the state government has confirmed that the Federal Government has released N30billion out of the N206 billion earmarked for the project, which is expected to complement the first Niger bridge which was constructed in the sixties.

Upon completion, the new Niger bridge is expected to operate a tolling system and will connect millions of Nigerians across the Federation to resources that can change their lives for good.

Fashola Inspects Federal Projects In Anambra, Southeast

Fashola Inspects Federal Projects In Anambra, SoutheastAnambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, had called for a visible Federal Government presence in the Southeast geopolitical zone and Anambra state in particular, as the zone had clearly been distanced in the scheme of developmental projects especially in the area of road infrastructure.

The Governor said this when he received the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola at the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia.

He stressed that any positive action taken by the federal government in the Southeast presently would go a long way in rekindling confidence and sense of belonging in them.

The Minister assured the Governor of the commitment of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to stimulate the economy with infrastructural development and that the Southeast would get its fair share.

Mr Fashola had been in the Southeast for a week inspecting federal projects, especially the Second Niger Bridge project and the roads.

The Minister whose entourage comprised top officials of the Ministry, commended Governor Obiano for his intervention on some failed federal roads and assured him that modalities of reimbursement were being worked out.

He relayed to the Governor the realities on ground with respect to the ongoing projects and maintained that the ministry would support the state in achieving its developmental aims as the federal government was not in competition with any state government, rather it would help them in successfully completing all projects everywhere.

He said: “Our concern essentially is to come and see the state of the federal roads, especially those that connect the states in the Southeast themselves and also to states in other zone.

“I will like to thank you for the interventions that you have made on some of the federal government roads and as I briefed you before, the President is mindful of the contributions to the state and even your intelligence has kicked off the plan by the federal government this year to make a provision for a board to settle all the state obligations and also various debts owed to contractors.

“This is part of the strategy from the federal government and Mr President to use infrastructure to stimulate the economy.”

Three officials from the ministry also gave status updates on the various projects in the state but not without appreciating all the support they had received from the state government.

Governor Obiano, in his response then commended the renewed interest of the federal government in the federal infrastructure in the Southeast and stressed the need for federal presence as that would boost the confidence of the people in the present administration at the center.

“I am delighted more importantly that you addressed some of the key areas that are bothering us. I’m happy to hear from you that the federal government will start work on the Second Niger Bridge this year.

“Finally, what we are saying here is that we want federal government presence in the Southeast as a whole and in Anambra in particular.

“We have lacked this presence for a very long time and their presence here will clearly enkindle a sense of belonging and improve major activities in the area,” he said.

After the meeting, the inspection team from the Governor’s lodge moved to sites of inspection, first through the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway to the Second Niger Bridge.

The construction was in the early phase, although for two years the contracting firm had registered its presence at the site.

According to the Division Manager of the company, Mr. Hadi Bley, they were awaiting funding for the commencement of construction and the early phase was expected to be completed within eight months and then the main construction would begin. This might likely take 36 to 40 months.

The Minister promised that inspection would be constant until the bridge is completed.

Nigeria Whistleblowers To Get Part Of Recovered Loot

Kemi Adeosun on Whistle Blowing Programme The Federal Executive Council in Nigeria on Wednesday approved a Whistle Blowing Programme to check improper activities and aid the fight against corruption.

The programme by the Ministry of Finance is designed to encourage anyone with information about a violation, misconduct or improper activity that impacts negatively on the Nigerian people and government to report it.

According to the Ministry there is a reward for persons that will give relevant information under the programme.

Briefing reporters on the nature of the programme after the Council’s meeting on Wednesday, minister of finance Mrs Kemi Adeosun, said “any person who voluntarily discloses information in good faith about a possible misconduct or violation that has occurred, is ongoing, or is about to occur will receive a certain amount of financial reward from 2.5 to five per cent of the amount recovered”.

whitle-blowing-programme-in-nigeria
The Nigerian government promises a reward for anyone that will give information on the portal provided for the Whistle Blowing Programme

She says a secure online portal will be opened where the information can be submitted

“It encourages anyone with information about the violation of government regulations, mismanagement of public funds, assets frauds, financial malpractice and other associated conduct to report it.

“It covers disclosure of information leading to the return of Nigeria’s stolen or concealed funds and assets.

“Anyone who has already submitted information can also check the status of his report on the portal,” she said.

Mrs Adeosun told reporters that the programme was in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General of the Federations and would be backed by a law to be enacted by the National Assembly.

According to her, the whistle blower would be protected against sanctions and would be accommodated under a reward scheme should the whistle blower be sacked from office as a result of the information provided.

Since President Muhammadu Buhari took over office in 2015 he has left no one in doubt that he is out to fight corruption in Nigeria.

Council members were said to have supported the programme which kicks off as a stop gap until the National Assembly comes up with a law to back the fight against corruption in the country.

Many concerned Nigerians are, however, waiting to see who will be blow the first whistle.

The Council also approved an emergency repair work on the Tamburawa Bridge in Kano which has been in a state of disrepair as well as continuation of work on the second Niger Bridge in the south east.

Second Niger Bridge: Lawmakers Give Assurance Of Completion

Niger bridgeThe House of Representatives Committee on Works have reiterated the Federal Government’s resolution to complete the second Niger Bridge.

The group led by Mr Kabiru Gaya gave the assurance at a meeting with Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, in Asaba, the capital of the state.

Mr Gaya and other members of the committee briefed the governor after they visited the site of the bridge to ascertain the level of progress on the project  as part of an ongoing investigation on how the funds for the project was disbursed by the former administration.

The River Niger Bridge in Onitsha, also known as the Onitsha Bridge, connects southeastern nigeria with western nigeria over the River Niger linking Asaba in Delta State.

Since its construction in December 1965, it has become relevant to the growth of the Nigerian economy, easing transportation and fostering trade and investments within the nation.

In order to reduce pressure on the bridge, the need to construct a second Niger Bridge has always been a welcomed idea for majority of Nigerians.

After getting information about the progress made, the committee members briefed Okowa on their findings.

While commending Governor Okowa for his infrastructural development projects and the quality of state representation in the National Assembly, Mr Gaya said that the bridge was a public-private project and that the government had earmarked funds to meet its part of the counterpart funding.

“We are here because the project is dear to the heart of Mr President and I know the project is dear to the governor and the people of Delta.

“I brought this able team because we are very much concerned about the project. Being a Public-private partnership project, we learnt the project has taken a very slow pace and the government is very much concerned. 18 billion Naira has been disbursed so far and 13 billion Naira has been approved for the project in next year’s budget,” he explained.

Governor Okowa told the lawmakers that strengthening of the legislature in the country was vital for the growth of democracy and decried the destruction to the roads by articulated vehicles.

He also wants regulation of the movement of heavy duty vehicles withing Nigeria, insisting that a lot of roads had been destroyed by trucks especially those above 30 tonnes, as they ply roads not originally designed to carry their weight.

“Some federal and state roads have failed because of this and we need to designated appropriate roads for them to ply as is done in other clime.

“The National Assembly is doing very well. It must continue to maintain their watchdog functions. You must work hand in hand with the executive and apply your watchdog functions”, the governor said. “The strengthening of the legislature is vital for the democracy.”

 

On completion, it is expected that the bridge would bring an improvement and accelerate the economic prosperity, transportation and exchange of goods and services across the country as well as reduce the pressure on the first Niger Bridge.

Fashola Guarantees Completion Of Second Niger Bridge

Fashola, Niger BridgeThe Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has restated the commitment of the Federal Government to the completion of the ongoing Second Niger Bridge Project.

The Minister disclosed this during a 1-day inspection tour of the project in Anambra State, where he was received by the Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, at the Bridge Head area of Onitsha.

The visit by Mr Fashola was to assess the state of work done on the project and to seek assurances from all the stakeholders of no hostilities and to convey the commitment of the Federal Government to its completion.

He said that the project would not only bring improvement but will accelerate economic prosperity and give relief to the first Niger Bridge.

He acknowledged the effort of the traditional ruler of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, towards the realization of the project in the areas of resolving issues of land ownership, court cases, compensation, and issues concerning environmental impact assessment which were part of the problems hindering the progress of the work on the project.

While the contractor handling the project maintained that non-release of  funds was a major setback in the completion of the 1.5 kilometer bridge and 10 kilometer road project, the Chairman of Anambra State Traditional Council and Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, urged the Minister to help sort out the challenges and see to the completion of the project which is a major priority to all Nigerians as it is a unifying factor.

He also appealed to the Minister to also consider the completion of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe Mauseuleum, which has been a 20-year-old embarrassment to the federal government.

The Minister assured the stakeholders that it is President Buhari’s priority to see to the completion of the project because it would accelerate transportation, exchange of goods and services across the country.

Governor Obiano expressed hope that the bridge would be completed on record time to boost commercial activities and living condition of the people.

He raised complaints on the Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe Mausoleum, the appalling state of the Enugu-Onitsha road at Umunya axis and appealed for immediate intervention.

The Governor also appealed to the Federal Government to help fix the power project at Nnewi which he said would cost less than 200 million naira to fix.

He finally appealed to the Federal Government to refund Anambra State 43.8 million naira spent on roads and erosion interventions.

He explained that the refund would go a long way in sorting out many infrastructural problems in the state.

ICRC Briefs Buhari On Construction Of Second Niger Bridge

ICRCThe Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), has briefed President Muhammadu Buhari, on some of the reasons why the construction of the Second Niger Bridge has been slowed down.

The Director-General of the Commission, Aminu Dikko, who spoke to State House correspondents after briefing the President, said the ICRC was currently withholding its Certificate of Compliance for the project because of many issues regarding the project that the Commission was not comfortable with.

Mr Dikko said the Commission was engaging the Ministry of Works on how to resolve the issues and therefore had asked the ministry to review the cost of the project.

He also identified the clamour for compensation by owners of the land, where the project is being sighted as one of the pending issues.

The Director-General said he has no idea of the present state of the project, where the groundbreaking was done with fanfare by the administration of former president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.

He, however, said it was normal for projects under the Public Private Partnership to take time, calling on Nigerians to be patient with the Commission.

He urged Nigerians who had been insisting on the completion of the project to be patient, adding that PPP projects could not be completed speedily like normal contracts where money is made available to contractors after they are awarded.

“For the Second Niger bridge there will be a lot of studies that needs to be done on the integrity of the bridge itself which will take time. It is not something we can see being completed in the next six months.

“I will like us to be patient about it, we know that it is a critical road, we also know how Nigerians suffer during festive holidays and we hear people sleep on that old bridge.The time has come for us to bring succour to Nigerians”, he maintained.

Dikko said the President issued two directives on the 33 silos built across the country and the need for MDAs to include project development in their budgets.

“What the President has directed is that we should involve the state governors to see how best they can encourage their farmers to utilise these silos when they come into effect.

“The President directed that MDAs should ensure that they have adequate funding for development of project in their budgets, and if they don’t they should look for alternative ways of getting such funding”, he said.

Obiano Inspects Second Niger Bridge

ObianoAn Engineer at the Federal Ministry of Works, Mr Edward Bosah, says work on the Second Niger Bridge project has reached its third phase, contrary to speculation that work on the project had stopped.

He made the revelation during the inspection tour of the construction site by the Governor of Anambra State, Mr Willie Obiano, at the main yard and camp site of Julius Berger, the construction firm handling the project.

The Site Engineer, Mr. Stefan Ueseman, also hosted the Governor in the situation room and took him through a presentation of the work being done.

Governor Willie Obiano said that he was pleased with the progress of work at the site but stressed the need for more pace in activities to ensure that the project is delivered at the scheduled period.

The second Niger Bridge is a 1.596 kilometre highway project with six lanes – three lanes each to and from Anambra and Delta states.

It had a 48 months completion period when the project was awarded in 2013.

Minister Says Second Niger Bridge Not Abandoned

niger-bridgeThe Federal Ministry of Works and Infrastructure in Nigeria on Tuesday cleared the air over speculations and media reports that the government has abandoned the construction of the second Niger Bridge.

Minister of State for Works, Ambassador Bashir Yugudu, told journalists at an event in Lagos that work was on-going, and that the project would be completed within record time.

He said the Ministry of Works, had complied with all due processes before the commencement of the project.

Media reports had earlier quoted the Minister of Environment as claiming that the Federal Government erred in commencing work on the construction of the second Niger Bridge without considering the environmental impact assessment law, prompting the ministry to consequently stop work on the project.

“The constructor has confirmed to us that they are on ground and that work is ongoing. All the environmental issues raised by the Ministry of Environment are issues that cannot stop a project,” he said.

‘An Enduring Bridge’

The Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, on March 10, performed the ground breaking ceremony of the Second Niger Bridge, 50 years after the first bridge was built.

Performing the function at the Anambra end of the project site, the president assured Nigerians that the construction would begin immediately and would be completed within the four years record time and according to design.

The old Niger bridge sprawls across the Niger River on the Onitsha side of Anambra State to Delta State, with evidence of age written all over it having been built in 1965.

Construction of the second bridge is from Ogbaru side of Anambra State to Delta State.

The President said the second Niger Bridge would be part of the transformation agenda and a critical national infrastructure that would be key to social economic development.

He also said the project, when completed, would improve road transport, communication and also link industrial and commercial regions.

According to the Minster of Works, Mike Onolememen, the second Niger Bridge and the connecting roads would enhance economic development of the southeast and southwest.

“The Federal Government is committed to building an enduring bridge across the Niger that will meet internally acceptable standard and deepen national integration and interaction,” Mr Onolemenme said while giving the specification and the cost of the bridge.     

On the aspect of the financing, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the Federal Government financing model involved Private Public Partnership, with quality participants being part of the project which would cost 117.9 billion Naira (about 698 million dollars).

The second Niger Bridge, for which 40 billion Naira has already been provided for the commencement of work, will indeed eliminate the burden of traffic gridlock suffered on the Anambra and Delta ends of the road, a constant situation that has weakened the first bridge which was constructed with £5 million.   

 

 

Second Niger Bridge Commencement Ceremony To Hold March 10

Niger bridgeThe Nigerian government will on March 10 perform the ground breaking ceremony for the second Niger Bridge.

President Jonathan told a delegation of Anambra State citizens, who were in the presidential villa on a courtesy visit on Tuesday that the work on the bridge would begin immediately after the ceremony in fulfillment of his campaign promise before he became the president in 2011.

The Anambra citizens came in the company of the outgoing governor, Peter Obi, whose tenure will expire on the March 17.

They thanked the Federal Government for the planned flag-off of the second Niger Bridge project, pledging their support for the government to ensure that the bridge is completed within the stipulated time.

President Jonathan paid glowing tribute to Governor Obi, saying that acrimony between governors and the president does not help in the development of any state.

He commended the governor for demonstrating clearly that he was a good person, citing examples of how he was able to manage a House of Assembly that was predominantly controlled by an opposing political party and his contributions to the economic management team.

The group thanked the president for his support to the outgoing governor and urged the president to extend the same support to the incoming governor Mr Willie Obiano.

The first Niger Bridge was built in 1965 and cost £5 million. The increasing vehicular movement had triggered the need for a second bridge to ease the pressure on the old bridge and at the same time create free movement of vehicles into the commercial city of Onitsha.