BY Desmond Okon
The federal government has ordered the opening of the Second Niger Bridge for use, in order to ease traffic in the south-east during the festive season.
The bridge was officially opened on Thursday midnight.
Babatunde Fashola, minister of works and housing, who gave the order on Wednesday at the inauguration of the bridge, said it will be opened for use for one month during the yuletide.
He noted that the bridge would be closed to traffic on January 15, 2023.
The minister urged motorists plying the bridge to drive safely and responsibly in order not to defeat the purpose of constructing the project.
The federal government had announced last week that the project would be opened to traffic on December 15, 2022.
Speaking at the inauguration, Fashola said President Muhammadu Buhari’s purpose of completing the bridge was to save lives and alleviate poverty caused by wasted hours resulting from gridlock on the old First Niger Bridge.
He said the opening of the Second Niger Bridge would reduce the sufferings of commuters who always experienced traffic congestion during the yuletide.
“A lot of people have talked about a solution but the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration decided to build the bridge whatever it took. So, wherever the funds came from, investment income, from our oil assets, repatriation of some funds that were stolen out of Nigeria came in from the US,” Fashola said.
“The result is now what we see. When people are talking about poverty, the biggest part of it is not the monetary poverty, is the multidimensional poverty.
“When you spend two to three days trying to cross a bridge, that’s poverty, because it should take just a few minutes so that you can go and do more productive things.
“The President approved that since the bridge is finished that we should create an access road so that during Christmas you can begin to experience what it would feel like plying the bridge.
“The maximum speed limit on Nigerian roads is 100km per hour. Don’t drive 101km per hour. The President will be happy to see users drive safely and responsibly while using this road especially during this Christmas and New Year seasons. The President wishes you a merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
“It would be open for traffic going from the west to the east from the 15th Dec, 2022- 15th January 2023.
“Let me be clear again; we haven’t finished construction work on the bridge but we would open it for people to use to relive the pressure from the one bridge. On the January 15, 2023, we would reverse that movement for those coming from the east to the west.”