The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, says construction and maintenance of bridges across the country is creating new economies not known to exist in the system before.
Fashola said this when a delegation of Ohafia traditional Rulers and Leaders of Thought led by Mr Awa kalu (SAN) paid him a courtesy visit on Thursday in Abuja.
Kalu said the visit was to publicly acknowledge that governance works and that the Federal Government came to the aid of the people in building bridge on Muri river in Ebem Ohafia in Abia State, that was in total state of disrepair.
Fashola said: ”As far as bridges go, its also an important opportunity to share that these bridges we are repairing, restoring rehabilitating and maintaining are 37 across Nigeria.
“Many of these bridges are either never been maintained before. There is need to imbibe a culture of looking after our assets to get the longest possible benefit out of it.
“It is also creating a new economy, maintenance economy, so in the cause of these maintenance works, some of these people like divers are discovered, but many didn’t know that such people existed in Nigeria, they only see them in films.
“It is in the cause of this maintenance work that they are discovered.
“Our mandate from President Muhammadu Buhari is to execute a programme of renaissance infrastructure replacement, expansion and redevelopment.
“Our government is very clear on the economic development and recovery plan, one of the objectives of that plan is to invest in the Nigerian people. This is what we are paid to do and mandated to do.”
Fashola said that when they learnt about the disasters occurring at the bridge, the President said the ministry should respond to the situation as best as it could within the limits of the resources available.
He said that this also concerned resource issues and was the reason for the borrowing, so that when those requests were presented to parliament, people would tell their representatives in parliament that they were potential beneficiaries of this borrowing,.
“So, to support borrowing, but you should support responsibly knowing that the reason for the borrowing is an investment for the people and the community,
“Also, we are constructing new bridges from Chachangi to Ebi around Taraba to Loko-oweto between Niger and Nasarawa to 2nd Niger bridge between Asaba Delta and Anambra , Ikom bridge in Cross River.
He said that connectivity within Nigeria would improve and people would soon start to travel again, adding the government was executing over 800 projects across the country of which Muri bridge was part.
Fashola assured the monarchs that their request on the reconstruction of the Federal road of Ohafia leading to Bende would also be attended to since it was already part of the ones approved for construction.
Earlier, Eze Emmanuel Kalu, one of the traditional rulers of the council of Ohafia on behalf of people of Ohafia in Abia, read an appreciation letter to the minister, thanking him for the timely intervention to the cries of the people on the Muri bridge.
“We come to show appreciation in relation to the construction of a brand new bridge over Muri river in Ebem Ohafia.
“FERMA also assisted in repairing the old dilapidated bridge to provide temporary succour to our people who had for long, experienced hardship on account of the deplorable condition of the bridge which had almost become a death trap.
“We thank you for the promptness of your action which was carried out in less than two weeks after one of our sons reached out to you, requesting urgent action to avoid immediate loss of lives and property.
“We thank you for continuing in your noble efforts of providing service to our father land.
“We want to use this opportunity to ask you to facilitate the construction of the Federal road linking Ohafia – Bende and Umuahia, of which the same Muri bridge is part of, thank you so much for your great work.” he read.
Mr Etgwe Uwa (SAN) also a part of the delegation urged citizens to cry out to government when they were in situations beyond them.
Uwa said if people failed not reach out to government, government would not be able to help them since they might not be aware of such situations.
The News Agency of Nigeria’ (NAN) reports that the highlight of the occasion was the bestowing of a traditional title of Enyi Ohafia meaning ‘Friend of Ohafia’ on the minister and presentation of a full traditional regalia to him.