As Christmas beckons,former Abia state governor Dr.Orji Uzor Kalu has extended invitation to President Goodluck Jonathan for an eye witness account of the pains travellers suffer crossing the Niger Bridge in Onitsha.
Kalu who praised Jonathan for his resolve to construct the Second Niger Bridge observed in a statement by Emeka Obasi ,his media chief that only a Presidential visit and the setting up of a Task Force would stem the inhumanity that had followed the conception of the project.
He said,”When Jonathan told the world in Onitsha that the first Bridge was constructed under an Azikiwe[Dr.Nnamdi Azikiwe]and another Azikiwe[President Jonathan] would put up a second one,I believed him.But I just want him to come over after work, between December 24, 2012 and January 15, 2013 to see for himself what his country men are going through despite money allocated in the past and promises by former leaders.His visit would make things happen next year even if means setting up a Task Force.”
The ex-governor reminded the Federal Government that it took two years to construct the Eko Bridge in Lagos after Carter Bridge suffered serious structural problem in 1957.
“Major repairs were carried out on Carter Bridge in 1957,but it was obvious another bridge was needed to ease traffic in Lagos.Government moved fast.By December 1,1965 work officially commenced on a new bridge,Eko.By December 17.1967,it was ready.And the contract was awarded to Messrs Julius BergerAktiengesellschaft.Since 1980,it had been hectic crossing the Niger.I just hope Mr.President will handle this.Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Chief Emeka Ihedioha knows about the pains of the failed attempts,” Kalu added.
He also expressed optimism that those who would lose their land in the course of constuction would be adequately compensated as was the case during the Eko Bridge era.
“It took Nigeria about 10 million pounds to complete Eko Bridge in 1967.Although Government got a loan of six million pounds from German Bank Kreditanstalt Fur Wiederaufban,more money was spent to build 58 high-rise homes to accomodate those who lost their houses on the Lagos Island,about 12,000 persons.I am sure we are going to see the same treatment across the Niger,” Kalu emphasised.