Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Bulldozers of construction giant, Julius Berger, contracted by Governor Nyesom Wike Government on Wednesday demolished the only multi-million naira air-conditioned pedestrian bridge built by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in front of its corporate headquarters in Port Harcourt.
A Port Harcourt based journalist, Kote Onungwe Obe Eleme, witnessed the demolition. He quoted a staff of NDDC as describing the action as “a waste of precious funds as the bridge cost several millions of naira, which could have been utilised to pay contractors being owed by NDDC.”
He told our correspondent that he was passing by when he saw the bridge being demolished and was appalled by it.
Others who were equally appalled by the demolition, however, said the bridge must have been demolished because it was not part of the master plan of the state government, especially with the ongoing building of another overhead bridge at the GRA junction, a few metres away the NDDC pedestrian overhead bridge.
However, Miss Irene Patrick, a customer with a nearby bank at the GRA junction who also witnessed the demolition said since the bridge was not obstructing traffic or the overhead bridge being constructed, there can be no justifiable reason for its destruction.
Another man with office adjacent to the bridge expressed regrets about the demolition. He noted that he found it very convenient parking his car at the NDDC’s parking lot, while he usually used the demolished bridge to cross to the other side of the road.
However, speaking on condition of anonymity a Julius Berger Staff at the site of the demolition, said the bridge is relatively low compared to other pedestrian bridges on the Port Harcourt – Aba expressway and does not fit into the engineering design of the new overhead bridges under construction in the state.
Yet, another eyewitness insinuated that the demolition could have political motives as government under Wike had last year secured a court judgement barring NDDC from carrying out any project in Rivers without approval from the state.
The Rivers State Government is governed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, while NDDC is under the control of the All Progress Congress, APC federal government.
The overhead bridge, considered to be a white elephant project, is believed to be the first air-conditioned pedestrian bridge in the South-South region if not in the entire country.
Police officers are usually stationed inside the enclosed bridge located right opposite NDDC to stop hoodlums from attacking pedestrians.
It was constructed by NDDC for easy movement of their visitors and clients to their office from the opposite side of the road. It’s fully air conditioned and secured.
None of the NDDC officers contacted by our correspondent was willing to volunteer comment on the issue.