By Ebele Orakpo
Delta state government in partnership with Arco Petrochemical is planning to set up a N100billion industrial park to be located in Warri.
The project which will be driven by Public Private Partnership will develop first class infrastructure in the park for private sector operators to take advantage of.
The project which is expected to be completed by 2014 will be financed through joint venture, concession and private equity participation.
Already the state government has initial 80 per cent stake in the project which it hopes to divest into lower equity as more private sector participation in the project is secured. Arco Petrochemical has 20 per cent stake in the project.
Giving details of the project in Lagos on Saturday the Chairman of the project coordinating Committee Mr. Alfred Okoigun, Managing Director, Arco Petrochemical Engineering Company Limited, said that the project was conceived by the state government as part of strategies to diversify Delta State economic base, attract new businesses into the oil city and stimulate return of businesses that left previously.
He said that in pursuit of the noble objective the Delta State Government in August 2008, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Arco Petrochemical Company Limited, an indigenous oil servicing company, to set up an industrial park that would boost commercial and industrial activities in Warri.
Mr Okoigun said that the proposed park is to be named the Warri Industrial Business Park (WIBP) and thatÂ the Delta State Government believes the park would reshape the economic potentials of Warri and the state at large.
He told newsmen in Lagos that the proposed unveiling of the Warri Industrial Business Park master plan will be taking place at an investorsâ€™ forum in Warri on February 18, 2010. He said that the project became necessary when the Government of Delta State and Arco realised that a transformation of the economy of the state was urgently needed as a stimulant towards addressing the critical issues of development, tangible growth, peace and security of the state, noting that â€œthis is with a view to creating a hub for the convergence of high, medium and small scale industries and businesses especially in areas where the state has comparative advantage.â€
He stated that Warri was chosen because it is strategically located in the heart of oil and gas activities in the oil-rich Niger-Delta region and presently has some level of oil and gas-based activities taking place there, noting, however, that the potentials of the city are largely unexploited and believe that a project like WIBP would bring out the best in Warri and the state as a whole.
It will be recalled that Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State had in a publication titledÂ The Necessity for Warri Industrial Park in Vanguard of February 17, 2009, said that â€œthe collaborative initiative for the Warri Industrial and Business Park is a right business decision capable of opening many other possibilities abundant in our state beyond oil and gas.
Okoigun said â€œIn adopting the Public-Private Sector Partnership (PPP) option, we feel as a government we should restrict ourselves to the role of enablers and facilitators of business. We know there are certain things government has not been able to do very well-one of which is to be business managers.
We find that in a modern economy, the reflex for innovation and creativity succeeds if it is in the hands of private businesses,â€ the governor stated. The Arco boss said his company took the lead in the conduct of a feasibility study and preparation of the master plan for the project which would be presented at an investorsâ€™ forum in Warri on February 18, 2010.
According to Okoigun, the park would haveâ€œup-to-date infrastructure to serve as the main arteries of the project – constant power supply, network of good roads, abundant water supply, dependable communication system, ample space for carrying out different categories of business, warehouses, residential quarters, standard hotels, regular educational institutions, in-service training facilities, recreational areas etc.â€
Okoigun further said â€œThe Delta State Government has provided extensive support in achieving the current momentum that has produced the draft master plan of the project,â€ adding that the governor allayed â€œour fears about bureaucracies that could stall the implementation of this project. He has from day one kept all officials of Delta State Government involved in the project on their toes.
â€œIndeed with the total commitment of the state government and Arcoâ€™s dependable partnership, we have reached another milestone in the journey towards the realisation of the project. Now we want to unveil the master plan,â€ he stated.
He said prospective primary users of the park would be invited to the unveiling of the master plan coming up on February 18, 2010 in Warri. The primary users, he said, are going to â€œhave a look at the plan and find their own relevance to the project, offer suggestions on the various aspects of the plan as well as make tentative bookings on the locations and quantum of land space they would like to use for their own business,â€ he said.