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By: Our Correspondent
UYO, South-south, Nigeria – Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Housing and Special Duties, Mr. Akan Okon, has reassured that the Ibom Deep Seaport project, a flagship project of his Ministry was on course and a reality for the good of the state and Nigeria.
Okon who gave the hint in Uyo over the weekend during a dinner with Journalists, to brief on the sectoral achievements of the Ministry, said the Ibom Deep Seaport project is very viable and it is the best alternative for the Lagos port.
Speaking on the state of the Seaport project, Okon, said that on assumption of office, Governor Udom Emmanuel put in place a Technical Committee, headed by a former Director General of NIMASA, Barrister Mfon Usoro, with the responsibility of ensuring that the project is realized.
According to him, the Committee has been able to get to almost the closure stage. At this stage, we have been able to come up with the preferred bidder and the reserved bidder for the project and as soon as this is approved, the full business case will be sent to the Federal Executive Council for further approval.
“I can assure you that as soon as that is done, the construction of the project will commenced.”
The Commissioner explained that the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Transport set up Ministerial Project Development Steering Committee, (MPDSC) made up of representatives from the same ministry, the Nigeria Port Authority, (NPA), ICRC, the programme Manager, representatives of ICPC and EFCC, members of the Technical Committee and Akwa Ibom State Government.
“Like every process leading to where we are now is being approved by the Federal Ministry of Transportation and you know that Seaport development is in the Exclusive List. So, this project is jointly financed and promoted by Akwa Ibom State Government and the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“The Procurement Process for the Seaport development was approved by MPDSC on the December 24, 2017 and on January 8, 2018, the Request for Qualification (RFQ) from interested investors was published all over the world.
“And this was done not in the usual way but through a virtual data room and at the end of that exercise, we had 174 downloads of the RFQ. Out of that 174, only 40 bidders registered that they will submit their RFQ but at the end of the day, only eight were able to submit their RFQ.
“Based on that submission, on March 20, 2018, that RFQ was opened and evaluation done by MPDSC and at the end of that evaluation, three of the companies were prequalified, that is to say they made the requirement that was published.
“So, with the level that we have reached and the timetable that we have, by the end of November 2018, God willing, there should be a groundbreaking. So, Ibom Deep Seaport is a reality for the good of Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking further, Okon said; “Let me also make this clear. Almost all the bidders that were shortlisted have visited the site of the project, they have done their studies and I can tell you that from their designs, they have a minimum of 16.5metres draft at the original location of the project, which is Ibaka.
“This is the best for modern vessels as against Lagos port that has 8metres draft. So, our draft is an attraction for many shipping lines because modern vessels can come directly to the port and discharged. Our seaport is very viable and it is the best alternative for the Lagos port.
“One of the considerations that were given for the selection of the preferred bidder was that such a bidder must not just be a construction company but must have a shipping line and a construction company that has the financial muscle.
“We had a consortium that was made up of top 10 Cargo Companies in Europe and top 10 in construction firms in China. They are coming together to build the Deep Seaport,” he added.
On the level of work at the Ibom International Airport, the Commissioner said that the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel has established a Power Sub-Station to give the airport all-round-the-clock electricity and a taxiway that could also serve as a second runway.
“Ibom Airport has been run on generators since inception but I am happy to tell you today that the State Government has successfully completed a Power Sub-Station to power the airport. This, we believe, is going to ensure that the Airport is run effectively.
“Again, if you look at the airport you will also notice that there has been significant improvement in the level of work that has been done to the Taxiway (Second Runway).”
On the area of housing, Okon said that another project that is being handled by his Ministry is the 21-Storey Building under construction at the Banking Layout in Uyo.
“A lot of work has been done, the foundation work has been completed and the building has started coming up now. We will get that project completed in a very short distant time.
“In the area of Housing Estates, we inherited some Housing Estates and some of the resource persons that undertook the constructions were owed various sums of money. I am happy to tell you that the Governor has been able pay these resource persons, though in batches.
“So far, we have done three batches of payment to some of the resource persons that undertook the project at Ikot Ekpene and Idu Uruan. It is the intention of government to ensure that all those that carried out the construction work are fully paid.”
On Ibom Tropicana project, he also hinted that the project was set up to serve a purpose for Akwa Ibom and its people.
“Presently, we have identified an investor in the section of the Wet and Dry Park and as we speak, they are doing audit of the equipments. I am very certain, considering the rate that we are going, that it will be opened for use this December.”