By Godwin ORITSE
THE Federal Government through the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has commenced moves to develop three deep sea ports across the country with a view to growing the economy. Disclosing this in Onne, near Port-Harcourt, Information Minister Mr Labaran Maku, said that the government was partnering with private investors to bring about these developments because, that, according to him is the only way to grow the economy.
Maku who visited the on going port extension work at the Federal Ocean Terminal currently being operated by Intels, also disclosed that the firm will hand over the facility to NPA after twenty years, so as to allow for enough time for the investor to recoup its investment. He explained that the new strategy by government to partner the private sector was paying off as the construction work has remained consistent unlike when government contractors are made to handle these kinds of jobs.
“We are doing a prime project for the economy of Nigeria, this port covers about 90,000 hectares of land which is a huge area and you can see the land reclamation going on it is all part of the port project. In less than one year, this contract has been virtually executed to about 70% percent and it will be completed in August and you can see because this is government private sector partnership (PPP) you can see the speed at which the project is being executed.
“If it were an entirely government contract , contractors will wait, they will delay, they will bring back papers for re-validation and they will keep working for years, but this new strategy to engage the priavte sector to develop our ports is really working.
This port as it were, still has phase 4B, which will follow as the concluding part of the port project. Intels will manage this port for twenty years and recover its money so government has not invested any thing in this port and that is indeed a good policy of government.
“The infrastructures of the fast growing economies are provided by the private sector, all the government do is to provide the legal framework. He noted that every aspect of the Nigerian economy is crying for attention as the economy grows and that government does not have the funds to do all of these at the same time, so the need for private sector participation.
Maku stated that the government will continue to use the private sector for the purpose of developing the economy.
The information Minister stated that it was the vision of government to make Nigeria the leading economy in Africa in the two or three decades. He however urged the media to continue to monitor these on going projects and report the development as they unfold.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Mr. Habib Abdullahi, said that the project was in response to the upsurge in maritime operations at Onne Port Complex due to the increasing need to serve the oil and gas sector in West and Central Africa.