Bakassi Deep Seaport

Major investors withdraw 

By Godwin Oritse

THE   Ibom Deep Seaport (formerly named Ibaka Deep Seaport) projected initiated by the Akwa-Ibom State Government and the Federal Government through the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, may have sailed into hitches as the preferred bidder for project, Bolore, has withdrawn from the project.

Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, had   in a live radio broadcast monitored by Vanguard Maritime Report, said the reason the deep seaport has not taken off was because the investors have pulled out following the petitions the people of Oron wrote against the state government.

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He said the people who wrote the petition felt disgruntled over the change from Ibaka to Ibom as well as the relocation of the project site from Ibaka, Oron to Ibeno Local Government.

The governor said Oron people should be held responsible if the multi-billion Naira project does not come to fruition as the investors were scared by the persistent petitions.

But Okon Nkpubre, who is the Chairman, Òrò Nation Technical Committee on Ibom Deep Seaport, said the governor was economical with the truth as the petition written by the people was only to express the reasons the project should not be taken away from the initial proposed site (Oron).

Explaining why the investors left, Nkpubre said, “concerning the avoidable controversy surrounding the Ibaka Deep Sea Port project, let me categorically say that no investor would want to waste his hard earned money or borrowed funds to go and dig out a dry land equivalent to about 150 football (Soccer) fields to create an artificial ocean for a Deep Sea Port in Ibeno LGA when a natural harbour with undredged draft of 11meters is close by at Ibaka, only 10km away.

“That is why the Chinese who first expressed interest in the Deep Sea Port withdrew. That is why the French (Bollore) who emerged as preferred investor withheld investment. That is possibly why the Federal Government withdrew both equity and investment guarantee.

“Let the whole world know that Oron nation is not against the change of the name of the Sea Port from Ibaka Deep Sea Port to Ibom Deep Sea Port as falsely claimed by Governor Udom Emmanuel. What Oron nation is against is the unjustified relocation of the Deep Sea Port based on a clearly fraudulent   criteria and also the ill-advised idea of a Dugout Port.

“It is not also true that Oro nation drove away investors as claimed by the Governor. Oron Nation first wrote to the Governor to express strong reservations about the plan to relocate the Deep Sea Port from the technically most preferred location and the contemplation of a Dugout Port with its environmental implications.”

The Chairperson, Akwa Ibom State Government Technical Committee on Ibom Deepsea Port and Ibom Industrial City, Mrs. Mfon Usoro, has faulted the position of Nkpubre on the controversy surrounding the Deep Seaport project in the state, describing Mkpubre’s position on behalf of the Oro ethnic nationality as false and grossly misleading.

According to Usoro, the claim that the Seaport has been relocated from Ibaka amounts to disinformation as the facts on the ground reveals that at no time was Ibom Deep Sea Port located at Ibaka.

“Approval for the location and construction of a deep seaport is constitutionally the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government of Nigeria. There is not in existence a document that indicates the Federal Government located the Deepsea port in Ibaka at any time”.

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