The Niger river bridge is a very notable bridge in Nigeria. The reason for its popularity can be identified with the fact that the river itself is a very large one. The Niger River is a major river in the western Africa. It cuts across some African countries as it extends to over 2,500 miles, that is about 4,180 km. It runs in a crescent through African countries like Guinea, Mali, Niger, on the border with Benin and then through Nigeria. The Niger River is the third longest river in Africa, alongside river Nile and river Congo which are the longest. The longevity of this river accumulates to the reason why the bridge is notable and also why the bridge is a must know bridge in Africa/Nigeria history.
The river Niger bridge is one of the very big bridges that are in Nigeria. The river Niger bridge is the bridge that connects the south eastern and western Nigerian parts together. The River Niger is located in Anambra state, Onitsha to be precise. The River Niger bridge can be linked to Asaba in Delta state.
The River Niger bridge was constructed by Netherlands Engineering Consultants(NEDECO) of The Hague in Holland alongside The french construction giant, Dumez, The construction of the bridge was finally completed between the years 1964 and 1965.
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After the bridge was completed, the bridge was about eight feet by four hundred and twenty feet (8×420 ft.) It is about 1,400 meters long. It was constructed with a carriageway of 36 feet centre-truss and a pedestrian walkway on both sides of the carriageway. The River Niger was commissioned by the then Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and the bridge was officially opened for traffic in December 1965. The commissioning of the bridge was the last public function of the Prime Minister before he was assassinated on the 15th of January 1966.
Before the bridge was constructed, Transportation on the River was usually by ferries. The Asaba-Onitsha ferry transport was used to transport people across the River Niger. This was not so convenient for those who use the Niger river, as the river route is a route that must be used for some travellers. Therefore, the need to make the bridge arose.
The river Niger bridge has proven to be of more importance ever since its creation. Compared to the transportation by ferries, vehicles of various kinds can navigate through the bridge. Thus making transportation not only easier but also faster, less risky and more enjoyable.
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However, During the period of the Civil War of 1967 – 1970, in Nigeria, an attempt was made to stop the Nigerian military advance, Biafran soldiers destroyed the River Niger Bridge at Onitsha, trapping the Nigerians on the other side of the river. It was during President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration, that the bridge was rehabilitated. It was replaced with two spans on the Onitsha end of the bridge that were damaged during the civil war with a fourteen-foot wide bailey, at an estimated cost of 1.5 million pounds.
It is however noteworthy that the Niger river is the largest river in Nigeria but that fact does not make the river Niger bridge the biggest or the longest bridge in Nigeria. The longest bridge in Nigeria therefore is the third mainland bridge having a total length of 11.8km approximately 7.3 miles. It is located in Lagos,on the Lagos lagoon. It was opened in the year 1990 and was confirmed to be the longest bridge in Africa until October 6, 1996 when the bridge located in Cairo was founded.