UZOKWE'S SEARCHLIGHT

Wednesday, April 28, 2021
obiuzokwe@comcast.net
Harrisburg, PA, USA
I VISITED THE SITE OF THE SECOND NIGER BRIDGE PROJECT AT ONITSHA, NIGERIA
- HERE IS WHAT I SAW

https://youtu.be/bacYUaWvuBc

n January 21, 2009, on return from a visit to Nigeria and having witnessed the hold up that occurs on the current Niger bridge in Onitsha, I penned a commentary. Captioned, “Build a Second Niger Bridge Now- Lives are on the Line”, the commentary, which was published on Nigeriaworld.com, stressed the importance of building a second Niger bridge. I argued that it would ease the “crowdedness “of vehicles on the current bridge which had become structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. Of course, many other people were pushing for a second Niger bridge. We later heard that a design already existed and work was being planned.

Well, as President Obasanjo of Nigeria was leaving office, he hastily and deceptively organized what he dubbed the launching of the Second Niger Bridge project. But it was later, when President Goodluck Jonathan took over the reins of power, that meaningful progress started on the project. But because of the propaganda and disappointments that had plagued that project in the past, many believed that the pictures we were seeing, depicting the construction, were fake pictures. They believed that the project was a mirage.

As I prepared to travel to Nigeria in December of 2019, I penciled down a visit to the second Niger bridge site to see things for myself as part of my itinerary. As a practicing engineer myself, I knew that no amount of props, on the project site, was going to deceive me. I was prepared to bring factual information back to my readers about the project. I was also prepared to tell them if the pictures we were seeing were fake pictures.

Well, on the 30 th of December, I decided to use one stone to kill two birds. My children who visited Nigeria and Nnewi with me, for the holiday, were going back to Lagos, en route to Philadelphia. Their flights were to originate at Asaba airport. When it was time to depart from Nnewi, we all went together and headed to Asaba. Because of the traffic jam that had become characteristic of the current Niger bridge, we left Nnewi early just to make provision for the delay at the head bridge.

Eventually, we saw them off at Asaba airport but as we headed back to Nnewi, I asked that we veer into the site of the second Niger bridge from the Asaba end.

The attached video is what I saw and reported.

As I write, my understanding is that work continues to progress, even if not at a neck breaking speed. But be that as it may, completion of the bridge will ease traffic congestion, reduce the concern that folks have when they encounter hold up on the bridge that it would collapse. Easing traffic congestion means improvement in movement of commerce and the likes. But folks must keep and eye on the project and holler when it starts stalling again. My own eyes are on it.

Author of the books- 1. Nigeria: Contemporary Commentaries and Essays

2. Surviving in Biafra: The Story of the Nigerian Civil War

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