The preferred bidder for the development of the second River Niger Bridge Project, Julius Berger-NSIA Motorways Investment Company (JB-NMIC), has debunked some media reports suggesting that work on the bridge has been suspended due to non-compliance with environmental laws.
A statement jointly issued by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), otherwise known as Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), Mr. Uche Orji, and his Julius Berger counterpart, Wolfgang Goetsch, on behalf of JB-NMIC Consortium, said the reports represented ‘inaccurate and misconstrued information.’
“Contrary to recent reports, work on the Second River Niger Bridge Project is in progress according to schedule, to ensure timely completion of the bridge, which is set to be executed under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement for a concessional period of 25 years through the Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) model.
“In fact, the nominated EPC contractor, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, has commenced full mobilisation to site and timely execution of all scheduled activities is anticipated,” the statement said.
It alluded to the consortium’s continuing emphasis on compliance with Nigerian environmental laws as a paramount priority, adding that Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is an intrinsic part of the project, which is carried out in compliance with the environmental laws that govern Nigeria and in collaboration with the relevant ministries.
After years of agitation for a second Niger bridge, President Goodluck Jonathan had on March 10, laid the foundation of the bridge which cost was put at N117,860,700 billion.
According to the president, when completed, the bridge would boost the economy of South-eastern states as well as other states which it would connect, adding that the project was being executed under a PPP arrangement for a concession period of 25 years, through a DBFOT model.
The federal government is to provide N40 billion as counterpart fund for the project, and is expected, on completion, to alleviate the pains experienced by travellers as a result of congestion of the old bridge, particularly during festive periods.
The existing bridge over the River Niger was constructed and opened to traffic about 50 years ago.