By Damilola Aina
Some road fittings installed on the newly commissioned Second Niger bridge have been stolen by vandals, The PUNCH can exclusively report.
In response, the Federal Government has ordered security personnel to begin surveillance patrols on the bridge and surroundings to prevent a recurrence.
A source in the works ministry confirmed the theft on Wednesday, reporting that the expansion joint walkway on axis 330 of the bridge had been stolen.
The source said, “Unfortunately, It’s true. The stolen fitting is an element from the expansion joints of the bridge. Drivers on that road have to be careful as the damaged part can cause discomfort to motorists.
Another source who spoke to our correspondent corroborated the report, adding that supervising engineers are not happy about the incident.
Giving further details, the Director. Highway, Bridges and Designs, Omotayo Awosanya, stated that the incident happened a week ago on the Onitsha side of the bridge.
He said, “The expansion Joint at the median walkway of the bridge at Axis 330 on the Onitsha side of the bridge was stolen on the night of Wednesday 5th July 2023. Only one side was removed.
“We have informed the Police, DSS, and the Army to include the bridge in surveillance and security operations henceforth.”
In addition, he noted that there would be no implications for the vehicles using the road since the expansion joints are intact on the carriageways.
Recall that on May 23, the former president, Muhammadu Buhari, commissioned the N336 billion bridge, via an online platform, Zoom alongside seven other infrastructural projects.
The former Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, announced the completion of the bridge at a briefing in October 2022 after almost five decades of failed promises by successive administrations.
On December 15, 2022, the Federal Government also opened the Second Niger Bridge for use to ease traffic in the South-East during the festive season.
The Second Niger Bridge was first proposed during the 1978/79 political campaign by then-candidate Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria.
Patterned after the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, the 1.6 kilometers long bridge linking Anambra and Delta states is to decongest traffic on the existing Niger Bridge, boost economic activities, and connect the South-East with the rest of the country.