The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola at the weekend explained that the construction of the Loko-Oweto Bridge across River Benue has offered shorter route for travellers , with about five hours reduced travel time.
Fashola in a statement by the Ministry also stated that bridge, which is 97.37% completed, has facilitated redistribution of wealth in the local communities.
He made the remark on the bridge during an inspection tour to the project with his counterparts from ministries of Informational and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Relations, Senator George Akume.
According to him, the bridge “provides a shorter route cutting off about four to five hours. For someone coming from Cross River to Abuja by road, ordinarily will have to go from Calabar to Ikom, Ogoja to Katsina-Ala and then join Markudi, come through Lafia then Keffi and Akwanga into Abuja; but now you have a bifurcation through Oweto to Nasarawa”.
He stated that besides the Loko-Oweto bridge project, work was going on at the 2nd Niger Bridge, the Ikom Bridge and 37 other bridges across Nigeria which are being constructed, repaired or rehabilitated by his Ministry.
Fashola explained that some of the bridges being constructed, rehabilitated and repaired were: the 3rd Mainland Bridge in Lagos, the Murtala Mohammed Bridge in Koton Karfi and the Isaac Boro Bridge in Port Harcourt.
Others were Chanchangi Bridge in Niger state, linking Niger and Ilorin and the Tambuwara Bridge in Kano.
Mr. Fashola further said “This government in spite of very limited resources and having to borrow is simply doing almost the near impossible in terms of infrastructure. Mr. President continues to give his support and commitment to infrastructure. His understanding of the purpose of infrastructure for growth and development is very clear”.
Speaking earlier the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed was enthusiastic that with the completion of the bridge, the South-South and the South-East will be connected to the North and this would save five hours of travel time on the road.
He said Benue state would automatically be the food storage of the Federation by drawing people from every part of the nation while generating economic growth on one hand it would advance social cohesion on the other hand.
On foreign loans, Mohammed said, “Yes we are taking loans. We are also making judicious use of the loans. And while these loans have a life span of 20-50 years, the roads we are constructing will have 50-60years lifespan and outlive many of us”.
Also lending his voice, the Minister for Special Duties and Inter-governmental Relations, Senator George Akume urged the people to maintain peace and order among the various communities where the project is sited owing to the fact that the project was a huge one intending to serve not just Benue and Nasarawa states but also the larger Nigerian population.
The Emir of Loko, HRH Alhaji Abubakar Ahmed Sabo Sarikin Loko and Second-Class Chief of Agatu HRH Chief Godwin Ngbede Onah expressed appreciation to the Federal Government over the construction of the Loko- Oweto Bridge which had impacted on their lives positively.