ICRC CLARIFIES ITS POSITION ON THE 2ND NIGER BRIDGE
The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission is deeply concerned about the recent media reports on the 2nd Niger Bridge which emanated from the Director General’s media briefing on August 26, 2015, following a meeting with His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR. The Director General, Mr Aminu Diko, had briefed the President on the status of PPP projects in the Commission over which it performed regulatory oversight. As expected the 2nd Niger Bridge was one of the projects mentioned, amongst others.
The Commission wishes to thank the media for giving it the opportunity to highlight the main thrust of its discussion with the President. However the slant the story on the 2nd Niger Bridge was given by the media is a bit worrisome to the Commission and it wishes to clarify the position.
The Director General did not say the 2nd Niger Bridge project is “on hold”, “stalled”, or is being“probed” or even “suspended” as reported in some media headlines. He emphasized that the Commission would like to see the Niger Bridge completed to alleviate the plight travellers face on that route especially during festivities. As he rightly said: “We know that it is critical, we also know how Nigerians suffer during festive holidays and we hear people sleep on that old bridge. The time has come to bring succour to Nigerians”.
The Director General, however, said as a PPP, the project must pass through various checks to satisfy the federal government and investors alike of its viability, affordability, and also to ensure people get value for money. He then affirmed the Commission had expressed concerns about project cost vis-à-vis projected toll fees and engagement of community stakeholders whose land would be affected along the bridge’s right of way, amongst others.
ICRC wishes to state that these regulatory issues predate the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Indeed, the immediate past Chairman of the Commission’s Governing Board, Senator Ken Nnamani GCON was emphatic that as important as the 2nd Niger Bridge is, it must be procured in strict compliance with the ICRC Act and the National Policy on PPP. To this end, the Commission assures Nigerians that it is working with the Federal Ministry of Works to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.
We had expected the media reports would give prominence to other seemingly important projects we talked about which are currently being subjected to the same regulatory oversight, such as the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the Sagamu-Ore-Benin road, the Murtala Mohammed road, the 3 Deep Seaports each at Ibom, Lekki, and Badagry, the Agric Silos, Hydro power, etc. All these projects are important to the nation and it is in our interest that they are successful. Most importantly, our duty is not only to oversee the provision of quality infrastructure services, but also to ensure that while investors are assured of the opportunity to recoup their investments, the nation and citizens are not shortchanged.
Acting Head of Communications