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$2 billion Ibom Deep Seaport to drive economy

$2 billion Ibom Deep Seaport to drive economy

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The much anticipated $2 billion Ibom Deep Seaport project is closer to actualisation, following the opening of the bid process in Lagos recently.

Of the three firms shortlisted for the bid process, Bollore & China Power and China Harbour Engineering Company are still interested while the third firm, China Road Breach Corporation (CRBC) has reportedly withdrawn from the process, The Nation learnt.

The Akwa Ibom State governor, Emmanuel Udom, while thanking the Ministerial Project Development Steering Committee (MPDSC), the body midwifing the project, explained that the project is very “dear to us.”

According to the governor, presently, on the entire shores of Nigeria, the portion where the Ibom Deep Seaport is to be located carries the deepest natural draught. This, he further explained, makes it very viable for whoever wins the bid.

“So whichever investor that win the bid process, I am sure will never regret it. It will be a very laudable project and you will realise your investment in good time. You can see what is happening in Lagos, so this will be a very viable alternative,” Udom said, assuring the firms that government would follow due process and best practices ever seen in projects like this.

The Chairman of the Technical Committee, Mrs. Mfon Usoro, expressed joy at the stage the project has reached within a short time. For her, it has engendered trust in the mind of the investing public.

“Some have been worried that the project is located in a state that is not governed by the ruling party, but I need to disabuse your mind and to attest to the genuineness of the support that we have had from the Federal Ministry of Transportation. Indeed, this administration is blind to politics when it comes to infrastructural development. The unwavering support of the Presidency and all involved attests to this. It has shown the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal government towards seeing that this project succeeds,” Usoro said.

In similar vein, the acting Director General, Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC),  Chidi Izuwah, said that the project is democratising development across the country. He said it is not surprising that the process for the project, which started last January, has moved so swiftly, a feat he attributed to the transparency involved.

“If you have a process that is transparent and of world class standard, it will attract investment. We started this in January this year. To get to this stage in eight months for a project worth $2billion is really commendable. That is what we are seeing here. This project is part of the agenda to expand our ports. We all see what is happening in Lagos. Deep seaport has the right depth to attract very big vessels,” Izuwah assured.

A public private partner (PPP) with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nansel Zhimwan, explained that the ambition of port concession is to ensure it goes with development in the economy by matching ports capacity with development. Besides, he further noted, it is also to spread out ports development in such a way that it does not have cluster in a particular place to the extent of inhibiting growth.

“Developing ports capacity has multiplier effects on the economy. It will reduce cost to shippers in the country and this has been the ambition of NPA. This project has the capacity to do that; we hope that when this project comes to fruition it will be a major point for the nation’s economy,” Zhimwan said.

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