The collapse of a section of the East-West Road in Eleme in Rivers State, has paralysed investments estimated at more than $50 billion in the Eleme-Onne axis of the industrial hub of the state.
The section of the road had been virtually impassable for about two years, but became a logistic nightmare last week following the collapse of the bridge that allows access to the two petroleum refineries in Eleme, the Onne Port complex, including Onne Free Zone, the Indorama/Eleme Petro-chemical Plant, NotorePetro-Chemical Industries and many businesses within the corridor.
The head of operations and technical services at the Oil and Gas Free Zones, OGFZA, which is the regulator of the Onne Free Zone, Mr Adekunle Ajayi, said that the businesses cut off by the collapse of the East-West Road in Eleme were collectively worth more than $50 billion.
The businesses include Intels, which is the Onne Free Zone developer, the West African Container Terminal, WACT, Brawal Shipping Company, all the IOCs represented in the free zone.
Among government establishments that are equally cut off by the collapsed road are OGFZA, the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigerian Naval College, and the Nigeria Immigration Service.
In addition to investments already mentioned, there are lots of sundry businesses and government establishments along the corridor up to Ogoni that are also no longer accessible from Port Harcourt because of the failure of the road.
On the condition of the road, Managing Director of OGFZA, Mr Umana Okon Umana, said apart from its adverse impact on existing businesses in the axis, the logistic crisis caused by the failed section of the road constitutes a serious challenge to foreign direct investment which the Federal Government has been campaigning for.
“No foreign investor wants to stake his money where he cannot have access to,” Umana said.
He added that he had drawn the attention of the Minister of the Niger Delta and Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to the condition of the road, commending the NDDC for its intervention.