The dredger will make the delivery of the Second Niger Bridge faster as its introduction to the project, with its higher production capacity, will fast-track the completion time of the project.

The ongoing construction of the Second Niger Bridge has received a big boost following the arrival of Pirat-X, a 30-feet dredger with offshore dredging and trench-ing capacity owned by B&Q, a Nestoil company, which will be deployed on the project. The dredger could help speed up work on the 2nd Niger Bridge.

The bridge can be regarded as one of the most important infrastructure projects to connect the most economically active regions of Nigeria. 

The scope of work include the construction of 1.6km long bridge, 10.3km highway, Owerri interchange and a toll station.

The First Niger Bridge was commissioned by late Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa on January 10, 1966. It has remained the only link between the Western and Eastern parts of Nigeria for over 50 years.

While there is no official data on the volume of traffic, there are days it takes over 3 hours for vehicles to cross the bridge.

“The 2nd Niger Bridge is a key national infrastructure, with immense socio-economic benefits for the contiguous states and indeed the entire nation.”

With the attendant security challenges, wear and tear on the bridge and the economic cost of time wastage, the urgency for a second bridge came to the fore.

The Second Niger Bridge was first proposed by late President Shehu Shagari as the presidential

candidate of the National Party of Nigeria during the 1978/79 political campaign season. However, nothing much was done on the project throughout his tenure.

In 1987, then military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, challenged local engineers to design the Second Niger Bridge.

The Nigerian Society of Engineers incorporated a consulting firm, called NSE PREMS Limited, which subsequently delivered a master plan. However, the project received little attention until President Olusegun Obasanjo flagged off the proposed bridge in Asaba 5 days before handing over to the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

The bridge was to be financed under a public private partner-ship (PPP) with 60% of the funding coming from the contractor, Gitto Group; 20% from the federal government; and 10% each from the Anambra and Delta states.

In August 2012, the Federal Executive Council, under the President Jonathan administration, approved a contract worth 325 million for the final planning and design of the bridge. And in January 2017, a contract worth N14.4 billion for early work on the bridge was awarded to Julius Berger by the Buhari administration. 

Hope rising

With the arrival of Pirat-X Dredger, the completion time of the Second Niger Bridge will be fast-tracked to 6 months compared to the 2-year projected completion time.

Pirat-X Dredger, owned by B&Q Dredging, is a perfect and powerful partner in all major coastal hydraulic engineering projects – from harbor construction to offshore trenching for Oil and Gas projects; and dredging navigable channels to reclaiming beaches.

It can dredge and transport up to 1,120m3 soil water mixture per hour over a distance of 4.8km. It is equipped with Christmas Tree which enables it to work in offshore facilities and platforms, reduces operational time frame which leads to reduced cost.

The dredger has a production capacity of over 600,000m3 monthly of a grain size of 1.30mm in an 18-hour production per day (double shift). It comes with an extended dredge ladder capable to dredge in a depth of 32m and 38m respectively with a suction head unit to a depth of 50m. The Cutter Suction Dredger (CSD) is built in Mono Pontoon construction without drive and is equipped with 3 dredge pumps: Underwater Pump, Booster Pump 1 and Booster Pump 11.

The machine has a great advantage for large land reclamations, long range sand delivery and offshore trenching.

Dredging in the field is continuously monitored and evaluated with underwater viewing equipment in combination with a DGPS system and mixture density and speed measuring system.

To ensure smooth operation of Pirat-X, B&Q Dredging has a structured skill transfer program designed to train Nigerians in technical areas such as dredging, maintenance, fabrication, electrical/electronics and all aspects of the machine operation.

Pirat-X has also been slated for the execution of the N14.4 billion-100-hectares Phase 2 Elegushi land reclamation project.


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