FG should complete 2nd Niger Bridge – Dogara

By Samuel Ogidan and Gift Chapi Odekina
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has charged the Executive arm of government to complete the 2nd Niger Bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway because of their economic importance to Nigeria.
In an address during a two-day investigative hearing on the two projects by the House Committee on Works, Dogara said that the time had come for the government to faithfully execute both projects.
Represented by the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Chukwuka Onyema, the Speaker said that the hearing became necessary given that the projects were constant and ugly features in national discourse.
He said that proactive steps must be taken to ensure early completion of the projects as they constitute vital arterial network for the countrya��s road transport system.
a�?They have become media sensations and highly politicised to the extent that it now seems that we are playing games with the lives of our people. Past administrations have celebrated progress ostensibly made on them while achieving little or nothing in reality,a��a�� Dogara said.
He said that the House observed that contracts for the construction of the projects continued to feature in annual budgets without any seeming signs of their completion.
a�?The Minister of Power, Works and Housing stated that funds for the projects in 2017 Appropriation Act were reduced, so they run the risk of becoming white elephant projects because they are not under concession or Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement,a�? Dogara noted.
He added that the manner of execution of the projects was not in accordance with defined methods for executing projects.
a�?The Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority had spent about N18 billion on the Second Nigeria Bridge as the financier during its early stages. As a result of the observation, the House, by resolution, urged the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to provide funds in the 2018 budget for the completion of the project,a��a�� he said.
At the session, members of the committee frowned at the non-completion of the 2nd Niger Bridge and the Lagos Ibadan Expressway.
The lawmakers who for over two and half hours grilled the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), on the projects, maintained they were long overdue.
Fashola told the committee, chaired by Hon. Toby Okechukwu, that the government would continue work on the projects without recourse to previous agreements on the concession.
He disclosed that the sums of N11.5 billion and N5.05 billion had been provided for the Lagos-Ibadan expressway and Second Niger Bridge in the 2018 budget as directed by the House via the resolution passed penultimate week.

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