BY LAWRENCE ETIM.
The Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, Tuesday said the sum of N117 billion would be spent to construct the second Niger Bridge. Onolememen made this known while defending the ministry’s budget before the Senator Abdul Ningi (PDP-Bauchi)-led Senate Ad hoc Committee on Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).
The minister further explained that what the government set up to achieve from the beginning was that part of the money, N30 billion, would be sourced from the SURE-P while the balance would come from the private sector partners. “It was postulated that every year, the sum of N10 billion would be provided in the SURE-P for the second Niger Bridge and because it did not take off in 2012, we downgraded the allocation until the project takes off.”
According to him, there is massive mobilisation going on now at the location and the ground breaking ceremony will be done before the middle of March and from then on full construction will commence. “I am sure that the project will be able to access all its funds at a time, N7 billion had earlier been used for the preparatory work on the bridge. Throughout last year, what we were doing was the early work; phase one for the second Niger bridge. Lot of preparatory studies, morphological studies and geotanical studies which led to the final design of the bridge and preparation of the bill for engineering measurement and evaluation.”
Also approval had been given for the early work on phase two which would cost about N15 billion. “The money for this year, N10 billion that has been appropriated will appropriately be devoted to that.” The Director General of the Budget Office, Dr. Bright Okogu, said what the ministry needed to do to access the N30 billion SURE-P funds was to go through the SURE-P Secretariat Committee. Indicate evidence of work done, ask the chairman and his team to send people to go and witness and certify. Then make a claim based on that particular observation.