President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on Friday commissioned the Asaba-Ebu-Otor road linking Delta and Edo States, with a promise to dualise the road to enhance the economic value to the people of the states .
Jonathan said the bridge was built at a cost of N4.4 billion by an indigenous company, Inter Bau Construction, adding that the successful completion of the bridge was a testimony of the benefits of the Transformational Agenda of his administration.
Represented by Vice- President Namadi Sambo, Jonathan said that the federal government was determined to upgrade the infrastructural base of the country, adding that the government decided to change the policy of arterial roads in 2012 and that resulted in the completion of the bridge in a record time.
According to him, “It is gratifying to note that the completed bridge is already impacting on the lives of the people in terms of enhancing for farmers and better social integration between the communities on both sides of the bridge. I am pleased to inform you that we have directed the Minister of Works to commence the design and dualisation of the road.”
The President said that the federal government would continue to partner with the private sector in the road sector as it occupied a strategic place.
Earlier, the Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen in his speech said that the completed bridge was part of the road which runs from Asaba to Illah, Ebu to Illushi, Ubiaja, Uromi and Irrua in Edo State.
Tracing the history of the bridge to the 19th century when the British built the first wooden bridge across the Otor River which later collapsed, Onolememen said that the modern bridge started in 2005 when the ex-Minster of Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe approved the project.
He said that when the initial contract for the 400 metre long bridge which consists of a 10 kilometer access road which was initially valued at N2.9 billion was awarded in 2006, it was supposed to have been completed in 2008 but was later shifted to 2009.
He said that due to the federal government policy at that time, it was transferred over to the Delta State government which declined to take over on the ground that it is an interstate project which traversed Edo and Delta States but was again taken over by the federal government in 2011 due to a series of agitation by Edo and Delta communities.
He added: “The Contract was awarded t the same contractor, Messrs Inter Bau Construction at a revised of N4.4 billion. Work commenced in December 2012 and has now been completed. The project has provided a shorter link between the South East and Abuja with an appreciable travel reduction time of two hours.”
Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan used the occasion to plead that the weight of vehicles plying the road should be regulated so as to avoid the wear and tear of the road.
Uduaghan said that the governments of Edo and Delta states agitated for the transfer of the bridge to the federal government when it was handed over to them because of the funding which the two governments could not afford but was glad that it had finally been completed by the federal government.