The federal government has strongly condemned the destruction and vandalisation of some structures on the Second Niger Bridge.

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A viral video of the vandalism of some portions of the road infrastructure had surfaced earlier, raising an online debate as to the attitude of certain individuals to publicly-owned facilities.

In a statement in Abuja, the Minister of Works, David Umahi, said he was aware of the incident, describing it as cruel and cowardly.

“The minister is in receipt of a report on the activities of vandals on the superstructure of the 2nd Niger Bridge, particularly the cruel and cowardly incident of destruction of the expansion joints used to absorb the thermal expansions of the 2nd Niger Bridge.

“He expresses deep shock that reports of vandalism are still being recorded despite the presence of the private security outfit deployed by the Federal Ministry of Works to man the area.

“The minister condemns in the strongest terms this ruthless destruction of the expansion joints as a deliberate act of sabotage on a key national infrastructure that has immense socio-economic benefits to the contiguous states and indeed the entire nation.

“It is saddening that a human being with the right senses could destroy such a critical and strategic treasure that catalyses Nigeria’s socio-economic advancement,” a statement by Uchenna Orji, the minister’s spokesman noted.

Umahi said that the 2nd Niger Bridge which was handed over to the current administration on December 12, 2023, after its completion, is one of the presidential infrastructure projects intended to bridge the gap in the road infrastructure yearnings of the people of the area.

Besides, he noted that it was expected to boost economic activities by expanding access into the southern part of Nigeria, creating vistas of tourism and trade opportunities and improving road safety along the corridor. “But it is heartrending that the facilities are being vandalised by those who are meant to own the benefits it serves,” he added.

The minister appreciated the public for their concern, particularly the patriotic young Nigerian who raised the alarm that trended widely on media platforms, and assured the public that a more formidable security architecture is being activated to forestall further havoc on the facilities.

He explained that a technical team has been directed to inspect, evaluate and reinstate the damaged parts of the superstructure.

Umahi enjoined all road users, residents and authorities within the 1.6km concrete box girder bridge of the 2nd Niger Bridge, to help keep watch against persons who vandalise, attempt to vandalise or tamper with the road infrastructure facilities on the project, and arrest or report such persons to the nearest police station.

He listed other facilities that should be protected around the area as: The two secondary bridges of 21.7m each on Amakon village road, the cloverleaf interchange at Onitsha-Owerri road and the approach roads between Asaba, Delta State and Onitsha, Anambra State.

He stated that if contacted, the Federal Ministry of Works shall promptly and handsomely reward any person or group who nabs or gives useful information on the identity of perpetrators of vandalism of facilities on the 2nd Niger Bridge or on any of Nigeria’s road infrastructure nationwide.

The minister added that he shall not only ensure that such perpetrators face the full wrath of the law of the land but shall also ensure that those who buy or patronise such stolen facilities are punished.

“ States and communities are nonetheless required to own and protect federal government’s infrastructure sited in their respective domains,” Umahi advised.