Ochie Igbo has raised the alarm that the first Niger Bridge is at risk of collapsing. The umbrella socio-political group of young Igbo professionals lamented that while work on the second Niger Bridge was proceeding at an impressive rate, the current bridge connecting the South East to the South West was being overloaded.
President-general of Ochie Igbo, Dr. Chuks Orji, accused the Delta State Command of Nigeria Police of imposing undue stress on the old bridge, raising a checkpoint at the foot of the bridge, causing vehicles, especially articulated and haulage trucks, to spend much time on the bridge.
Orji said: “It has become increasingly worrisome that cars and other heavy vehicles are made to park on top of the Onitsha Bridge for hours. This is of a grave concern, because a closer look at the warning pasted on the bridge by certified engineers, says cars and vehicles shouldn’t be allowed to park on the bridge for hours.”
He regretted that the cautionary post engraved by the construction firm on beams of the bridge that was built more than 60 years ago “has been thrown to the wind by police officers of the Delta Command that stand at the gate to waylay commuters for reasons best known to them.”
Orji, who spoke to journalists after a visit to the traffic snarl around Onitsha, urged the Delta State Commissioner of Police to call his men to order, to avert the monumental security and socio-economic crisis a sudden collapse of the bridge could cause the nation.
While ruling out suggestions of deliberate sabotage, the Ochie Igbo leader said it would be wrong to think that only Igbo of the South East make use of the bridge, stressing that the idea of a second Niger Bridge was to ease the burden on the older bridge. He enjoined men of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) manning the Onitsha end of the pre-civil war bridge to enforce the ‘no parking’ rule at the neck of the bridge, especially by commercial bus drivers dropping off passengers.