Bonnny Island, Bodo communities Hail FG Over N200B Road Infrastructure
The Bodo/Bonny Road, in which the Nigerian Government is investing N200 billion, will be completed and put to use in December 2023, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, announced on Wednesday.
The Minister, who inspected the progress of work on the epochal road, which would make it possible for residents of Bonnny Island and Bodo communities all in Rivers State to walk across the major rivers which have been separating them for hundreds of years, stated that the money for the road has been provided by the Nigerian Natural Liquefied Gas under the Buhari Government’s tax credit policy.
Under the scheme, the NNLG will provide the needed cash for the construction of the historic road but get reimbursed by the Federal Government through tax credit, a new scheme introduced by the administration to encourage private investors to participate in the provision of critical national infrastructure across the country.
An elated Fashola, who said work on the project had progressed on schedule, boasted that the road project had already taken thousands of Nigerians working there from poverty and given hope and help in the process.
The minister said that apart from showing the commitment of the Federal government towards the development of all parts of Nigeria, the Bodo/Bonny Road project has also restored peace and stability to the communities which had in the past been enmeshed in communal conflicts.
Fashola said, “I sometimes hear some comments that the Federal Government is not doing anything in Rivers State. But this project is concrete evidence that the government has done something and will continue to do something not only in Rivers State but across Nigeria. This project will reduce poverty and we are using it to provide solution to poverty. We are building the road after three previous administrations had tried to build it but failed.
Most importantly, two communities within one state that were once divided by water and could not connect to each other because of lack of road- Bodo on the mainland and Bonny on the island- will for the first time in human history and ciivilisation be able to link up with each other by road next year.
“The road is costing the Federal Government of Nigeria N200 billion in one state. It used to take hours and money to travel between Bodo and Bonny and was also an inhibitor of productivity. So, our government designed this project to provide an alternative to water. There is nothing wrong with water but there is an efficient alternative that reduces travel time that will impact the cost of goods and services and open up this place for more development.
“This place was also engulfed in conflict but this project has brought about peace and stability among the communities that are now working together. I can say that for the first time in human civilization and in the history of mankind, people can actually walk on their way between Bodo and Bonny communities and it is almost done,” Fashola said.
On the East West Road, which was recently moved from the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to the Federal Ministry of Works to ensure its early completion, the Works and Housing Minister said that work on the project would start in earnest early next year after the conclusion of revised prices for the sections following the takeover.
The minister disclosed that the Eleme side of the road would require a flyover to removed the perennial traffic snarls around the axis but indicated that some property would be demolished to give room for the planned expansion.
Speaking on behalf of the Bodo and Bonny communities, the immediate chairman of the Peace committee for the road project, chief Salama LongJohn, thanked the federal government for taking the bold steps to construct the road and provide them access to other part of Nigeria, thereby changing their status from an Island to being part and parcel of Nigeria.
LongJohn said: “We are very grateful to the Federal Government of Nigeria for constructing this long forgotten road for Bodo/Bonny people. We will never forget you for linking us with the rest of Nigeria with this important road,” LongJohn said.
On his own part, the Secretary of the Peace committee, chief Jasper Jumbo, lauded the federal government to mustering the political will to make the road a reality in their lifetime and making them to feel that they are part and parcel of Nigeria.