Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, says the Federal Government has spent N157 billion on the Second Niger Bridge out of an initial contract sum of N205 billion.
Ahmed said the technology used to construct the bridge, which was 94% completed, was being used for the first time in Africa, adding that the technology had been used successfully in Hamburg, Germany.
She described the bridge as an iconic project, adding that the completion of all civil works on the bridge was a significant milestone.
Ahmed, who spoke yesterday in Onitsha, Anambra State, during an inspection of the bridge, said having linked both ends of the bridge together, only the finishing works remain to be completed.
She said she could confidently say to the President that she had seen where all the N157 billion had gone into.
She said, “The Second Niger Bridge is an iconic project in the country. Costed at an initial contract sum of N205 billion. Today, we have been able to fund this project to the tune of N157 billion. I am here to see where all that money is going to. And also, the significance of today is that the final civil works on the bridge is being completed, linking both ends of the bridge together. What is left are the finishing works.
Continuing, she said: ” For me, I can say to Mr. President that I have seen where all of the N157 billion has gone into.”
Ahmed said the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) was created by President Muhammadu Buhari to fund the Second Niger Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and the Abuja-Kaduna- Kano road.
She said the Second Niger Bridge was the most advanced of all the projects under the PIDF managed by the National Sovereign Investment Authority.
On funding for the Second Niger Bridge, Ahmed said the Federal Government provided seed funds through budgetary allocations and recoveries from Abacha loot, among other funding sources.
She said the National Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) invested its own funds and of other investors on the Second Niger Bridge project
She said the project was designed to uplift the lives of people of the South East and South/South regions, adding that it will ease traffic and enhance commerce and trade.
She expressed happiness at the high calibre of skilled Nigerian construction workers employed from the surrounding area who worked on a 24 hour shift to ensure speedy delivery of the project.
According to her, through the project, many highly skilled professionals have emerged to boost local capacity.
Managing Director, National Sovereign Investment Authority,( NSIA), Mr. Uche Orji, said the agency coordinates all the activities of investors during the project and when it comes on stream.
He said significant compensation had already been paid and assured that more compensation would be paid to owners of property or farmland destroyed.
His words, “I can assure you that the directive from President Muhammadu Buhari and the NSIA board is to pay adequate compensation to those affected. What we are seeing is very unique as April 2 marks the completion of major civil works. As you can see, casting is going on the last five meters and with the quick setting cement, we can actually walk through the entire length of the bridge.”