The Truth About 2nd Niger Bridge
As part of the routine debriefing by President Muhammadu Buhari since he resumed office, the leadership of various MDA’s have met with the President to appraise him of the goings on in the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
After the President met with the leadership of the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (I.C.R.C.) the story has it that the contract for the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge had been revoked or cancelled and that work on the bridge had stopped. The truth however is that the story is not true in any way.
The 2nd Niger Bridge has been concessioned under what is called a Public Private Partnership (PPP), in which a Contractor has partnered with the Federal Government to Build, Operate and Transfer the completed bridge after the contractor has recouped his investment through tolling after some years.
The ICRC is the statutory body empowered to regulate all Partnerships and concessions in which the government and any other legal persons are involved. In the build-up to this PPP for the 2nd Niger Bridge, Senator Chris Ngige was stridently against the project as presented. At a meeting on Cameron Road in Ikoyi where he addressed some Igbo elites sometime in 2014, he lambasted the project, calling it a fraud and a Trojan Horse, he compared the cost of the Bridge with that of the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge of about the same length and called it outrageous. The PDP and their leaders from the Office of the Secretary to the Federal Government under Senator Anyim attacked Ngige and countered that the cost of the bridge could not be the same with the Lekki- Ikoyi Bridge as the Lekki Bridge was not fortified for carrying trailers and the type of traffic the 2nd Niger Bridge would carry.
But on July 1st 2015, the news broke about China opening the World’s Longest Ocean Bridge measuring 26.4 Miles, about 42 kms and costing just US$1.5 Billion. The Jiazhou Bay Bridge of 26.4 Miles over an Ocean, cost US$1.5 Billion while the 2nd Niger Bridge of less than 2 kilometres under the PPP arrangement was to cost US$700 Million and as part of the obligations of the Federal Government to this PPP, N10 Billion of our money has already been disbursed towards project
Under this PPP the contractor would be entitled to Build and operate the Bridge by tolling for a period of Twenty-five years. This appears quite fair if they are to recover their US$700 Million investment. Without doing any affordability study this Contractor had fixed to collect a toll of N2,000 per Saloon Car, going up to N7,000 for trucks and trailers for a one time crossing.
The truth is that President Muhammadu Buhari has neither revoked nor suspended the contract for the 2nd Niger bridge, what he has done is to direct that the entire PPP be reviewed to ensure compliance with best practices and to protect long suffering Nigerians from politicians who seek to profit by robbing the people.