The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, has described infrastructure as the foundation for national prosperity and unity saying it is the most dependable fortress against tomorrow’s bad weather, bringing people together and laying the foundation for job creation, economic growth and agricultural development among others.
Fashola, who spoke at the Loko-Oweto Bridge and road project site while on the inspection of the project, said by investing in infrastructure renewal, President Buhari was creating wealth and securing the future of Nigeria as well as building a solid foundation for employment and for prosperity.
The Minister, who had earlier inspected projects in Anambra and Benue States, told the large and excited gathering of the Loko and Oweto Communities, including Traditional Rulers, who gathered at the project site as early as 8.00 a.m. to receive him, “President Buhari has demonstrated commitment to infrastructure renewal, building roads and bridges like the Loko-Oweto Bridge, the Loko – Oweto Road, the Enugu-Otukpo Road, the Township Road in Otukpo, the Second Niger Bridge, the Federal Secretariat in Awka. That is the foundation for prosperity”.
“Infrastructure built the American Nation out of the Great Depression and Recession; whether it is the Second World War or Marshal Plan in Europe; whether it is the ascent of the Chinese Empire today, the backbone is infrastructure-Road and Rail and Airports. It was after that they could host the Beijing Olympics to show off what they had built”, the Minister said.
Reiterating that infrastructure is the foundation of unity, Fashola declared, “It is an unfailing foundation. It is the most dependable fortress against tomorrow’s bad weather, tomorrow’s oil prices going back and forth. Once you invest in what President Buhari is doing, that is what creates wealth, that is what secures the future; that is the foundation for wealth, for employment, for prosperity”.
The Minister thanked the contractors, Messrs Reynolds Construction Company (RCC), and Federal Controllers of Works for Benue, Engr. Celestine Shausu and Nasarawa State, Engr. Wasiu Adetayo Taiwo as well as the Director North Central, Engr. Dayyabu Mamman for their untiring work in helping to rebuild the country adding, “Work continues here. If you hear those (politically opposed) people tell you that the country is divided tell them they divided it. If they had built this road, there would have been unity”.
“This road unites two traditional rulers-the Ada Agatu (of the Agatu Community of Oweto in Benue State) and the Mai Loko (of the Loko Community in Nasarawa State) . It is uniting farmers; so infrastructure is the basis for national unity. It brings people together, it brings prosperity, it is the foundation for jobs, it is the foundation for Agriculture, it is the foundation for industry and this is what President Buhari is committed to. Very soon and very soon this road and this bridge will connect and unite Nigerians forever irrevocably”, he said.
Earlier, while welcoming the Minister to the site, the Federal Controller of Works, Nasarawa State, Engr. Wasiu Adetayo Taiwo explained that the Loko-Oweto Bridge connects Nasarawa State at Loko with Benue State at Oweto adding that the Bridge has reached 91 per cent completion; the main bridge is 1.835 kilometre length while the smaller bridge is 220 metres bringing the total length to 2.055 km.
He said the contractor has been doing a good job on the project pointing out that the Loko bound (Eastern) portion of the bridge had been completed including the parapet walls and the walkways and other accessories while the Oweto (Western) portion has just about three pier axis to be connected to round off work on it.
According to him, the two smaller bridges had been completed structurally leaving only the connecting roads from Oweto and to link it to the Loko Road coming from the other side. He said the road, when completed, would reduce travel time to the South Eastern part of the country by not less than two hours adding that it would be the best road linking the South Eastern borders with people of the Northern Central and the entire Northern zone.
“It will also increase agricultural produce and, as you know, the people of this area are agrarian. So it is going to be a very big achievement for the Federal Government and the Loko and Oweto people”, the Controller said adding that trade would be enhanced especially in agricultural produce as traders across the country would have reduced travel time and better travel experience connecting the communities to purchase the commodities.
Other community leaders who spoke at the brief but impressive briefing of the Minister of Power, Works and Housing and his Agriculture and Rural Development counterpart, Chief Audu Ogbe, were the Traditional Ruler of Loko, Mai Loko Abubakar Ahmed Sabo, the Chairman of Oweto Community, Mrs. Achoda Comfort Alhassan and the President, Oweto Farmers, Ada Agatu Chief Godwin Onah all of whom testified that the project has impacted positively on the two communities and commended the Buhari administration’s resolve to complete the Bridge.
The contract for the construction of Loko-Oweto Bridge was awarded to R.C.C. Nigeria Limited on November 2, 2011 with an initial completion period of 48 months but take off was delayed by issues bordering on change of project alignment which affected the original design.
The change in alignment/design was aimed at relocating the bridge closer to Loko-Oweto communities with the attendant economic benefits, reduce length of approach roads from 22.4 kilometres to about 6 km and its diversion from swampy terrain, reduce proximity to Guto-Bagana Bridge and increase the original bridge height necessitated by the impact of the 2012 nationwide severe flooding during the rainy season of that year which presented a new High Water Level.
Aside the bridge construction, the works also include the construction of 3,850 metre-long approach road at Loko end, 3,090 metre-long approach road at Oweto end, and 550 metre-long road linking the two bridges at the Island separating the Southern and Northern bridges. The overall progress is 91per cent.