BY SUNNY A. DAVID
Mixed feelings trailed the opening of the 2nd Niger Bridge midnight on Thursday by the Federal Government.
For some residents, especially traders who used to make brisk business during gridlock on the old bridge, complained that the opportunity for them to make huge sales in traffic may not arise during this Christmas season following the opening of new bridge for use.
A hawker who spoke with our correspondent said, “It’s a good development generally, but those of us who depend on the gridlock on the old first Niger Bridge during festivities like Christmas will lose because of this development. It’s a case of different strokes for different folks”.
We have already stocked our wares for sale this season only for this development to scatter our plans. It’s a case of different stroke for different folks.
The Federal Government of Nigeria on Thursday opened the Second Niger Bridge between Asaba, Delta State and Onitsha, Anambra State to motorists for temporary use.
The bridge was opened amid jubilation from road users.
The government opened the bridge for temporary use for vehicles coming from the West to the South-East through Asaba from December 15, 2022, to January 15, 2023.
Our correspondent, who visited the bridge on Thursday, observed that vehicles were plying it from Asaba to Onitsha, without any hitch.
The motorists expressed excitement that the bridge would be a relief for road users as it is going to help decongest the old Niger Bridge.
The Minister of Works, Hon. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), said the temporary opening of the second Niger Bridge was to decongest traffic from the old bridge during the Yuletide.
There was heavy security presence at the bridge to ensure the safety of lives and properties of those plying the bridge on Thursday.
Speaking to our correspondent, the Chairman of the Great Tippers Association of Nigeria, Anambra State Chapter, Mr. Chukwuebuka Unekwe, expressed excitement that the bridge would lead to the free flow of traffic, at the Onitsha-Owerri Road as smaller vehicles will now be reduced on that axis.
He said, “Although our trucks are not allowed to ply the road during this temporary opening, it is a relief to us because those smaller vehicles will now make use of that place, thereby reducing the number of vehicles at the old River Niger Bridge.
“I have been at the bridge, it is very smooth and vehicles were moving very fast but I will advise they should not be deceived by the road and start speeding, thereby endangering their lives.”
One of the road users, who identified himself as Mr. Mathew Okafor, said the opening of the second Niger Bridge is a big relief to travellers, especially this Christmas period.
According to him, “If one does not have any business in Onitsha, Nkpor and others, he will ply the Second Niger Bridge to avoid the stress of passing the Onitsha Bridge head.”
Another road user, Mr. Ifeanyi Uche, described the new bridge as a blessing to the South East and it is a welcome development.
He added that the stress people pass through on the Onitsha Bridge was too much, noting that because of the stress on the bridge, many people hardly come home for Christmas.
The Secretary of Electronic Dealers Market, Onitsha, Mr. Damian Ogudike, said the opening of the new bridge was a good development.
He said the new bridge would ease the stress one passes at the bridge head from Asaba, Delta State.
“Honestly, the immediate benefit is the easing of stress people pass through to cross the old bridge head. I think this is a good one and kudos to the Federal Government,” he said.