The Senator representing Rivers southeast, Barry Mpigi, on Monday led other members of the National Assembly from Rivers State to protest the failure of the Federal Government to fix the Aleto Bridge on the East-West Road that is giving way.
Mpigi said during the protest that they want the Federal Government to act immediately before the eventual collapse of the bridge causes monumental damage to lives and property.
He said, “This bridge connects the wealth of Rivers State to Nigeria and we are demanding that the Federal Government swing into action and fix the entirety of the road.
“The lives of our people and other Nigerians are at risk here. We’ve written to the authorities and also raised motions on the floor of NASS concerning this. We decided to show Nigerians what our people face every day and demand that the Federal Government listens to us and avert unforeseen tragedy that might occur here.”
Also speaking, a Member of the House of Representatives, Kingsley Chinda, said the Federal Government had remained insensitive to all the representations made to it to fix the bridge.
Describing the section of the road where the bridge is as the spine of the Nigerian economy, Chinda lamented that the refusal of the Federal Government to take action on the bridge was symptomatic of the way it had treated issues concerning the development of Rivers State.
“If they are serious with oil and gas then the importance of this bridge cannot be overemphasised. All the refineries, the petrochemicals, the fertilizer companies, and the Onne Seaport and the Naval Training School they are all behind us.
“You need to go through this bridge to access these places. But because this is Rivers State, there is a graveyard silence,” he said.
Chinda disclosed that motions calling for the repair of the bridge had been moved on the floor of the House but “the executive arm is not sensitive to the resolution of the National Assembly. That is why we are now taking it to the court of public opinion. We are here to tell the people that we had been calling on the Federal Government to take steps and we pray and hope.
“Rivers people are not the main beneficiaries. The Nigerian state is the main beneficiary. What percentage do we get from the oil that we process here? What percentage is the ports authority that is here? Rivers people are not the main beneficiaries. We rather suffer for all these. What we are saying is that the lives of our people are at risk.”
Also speaking, another member of the House of Representatives, Dum Deekor, who is the immediate past Commissioner for Works in Rivers State, disclosed that the Federal Government had awarded contract for the reconstruction of the affected portion of the East-West Road but nothing had been done to move to site.
“As you can see, the bridge is not properly aligned and that is why the laterite is washing away; that is why you see that everything about the bridge is gone. This one we stand on here we only pray that it doesn’t collapse when it is use.
“We call on the Federal Government; we call on the Ministry of the Niger Delta to please very quickly intervene to save the lives of the people. This bridge we stand on is the gateway to the economy of Nigeria.”
Igwe Aforji, who represents Eleme in the Rivers State House of Assembly, said the state government could not intervene because it needed to get approval from the Federal Government. He, therefore, appealed to the government, the Niger Delta Development Commission, the Ministry of the Niger Delta and the Federal Ministry of Works to intervene quickly before it was too late.