Work on Ibom Deep Seaport is said to have slowed down considerably, particularly in 2017 when not much has been achieved, a Facebook user has reported.
The seaport was pioneered by ex-governor Victor Attah years ago, bankrolled by ex-governor Godswill Akpabio and steered by Governor Udom Emmanuel.
However, indicators pointed to the inability or failure of political will of the state government to properly drive the project particularly in the area of adequate and timely funding in spite of all the gains attained by the Project Implementation Committee led by Mrs. Mfon Ekong Usoro.
The Committee has not only assembled a high powered team of experts in maritime administration, port development and management, international finance, project development and management as well as top government technocrats but also secured a 50-year concession from the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).
The Facebook user reported that the Ibom Deep Sea Port, a pet project of the Akwa Ibom State government, is still on course as the promoters of the project Friday were holed up at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja where they held a meeting of the Ministerial Project Development Steering Committee for the deep seaport.
Details of decisions taken at the meeting were not immediately available possibly because it was treated purely as an internal matter.
Yet, industry watchers saw that as an indication that the Deep Seaport, capable of handling about nine million TEUs of containers and very large vessels which can carry 13, 000 containers per voyage, was still on the cards of the Akwa Ibom State Government which unfolded the plan as a major platform to drive its industrialization Agenda in the state.
Prior to this, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, Akwa Ibom State Governor had said the Ibom Industrial City project would be a self-sustaining venture that will not only drive his industrialization agenda but will also generate about 300,000 jobs.
And this comes even at a time when the Lagos State government is driving its similar deep sea port projects in Lekki and Badagry.
Similarly, the Cross River State government under Governor Ben Ayade is also strongly promoting its plans for the development of Bakassi Deep Seaport with the Federal Government having approved a preliminary proposal.
All three projects came after the Akwa Ibom State government had unfolded its plans.
The Ibom Deep Sea Port, planned to sit on 5,129 hectares of land across three local government areas of Akwa Ibom State was designed as the fulcrum of a larger 14,900-hectare Ibom Industrial City.
Driven primarily by the Akwa Ibom State government, the sea port also has the collaboration of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Global Marine and Port Services PTE Limited, a foreign consultancy outfit which serves as transaction driver.
Strategically located to serve the West and Central African sub region including Sao Tome, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroun, Angola, Congo, Congo DRC, Chad, the facility has been seen as Nigeria’s emerging maritime master stroke.
Meanwhile, Akwa Ibom State Government says Ibom Deep Seaport has reached a critical stage of construction.
Akan Okon, the state Commissioner for Housing and Special Duties, while addressing newsmen at Ibom International Airport, said he was in Abuja to participate in the Ministerial project development steering committee meeting held to approve the procurement procedure for the seaport.
Okon stated that the high-powered meeting signaled a critical stage in the project and had in attendance the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure Regulatory Concession Agency, the Nigerian Port Authority and the transaction advisers.
The Commissioner noted that with the approval given, EOI and the RFQ for the project will be issued.
The Ibom Deep Sea port development project, according to him, was a technical project quite different from other projects and therefore had to follow due process to ensure an excellent port that will be appreciated by all.
He stressed that the port was not just an Akwa Ibom project but a national and African project which will earn revenue for the federal government, employ Nigerians and provide huge economic benefits for other neighbouring African countries due to proximity when it comes on stream.
On the official commencement of work at the seaport, the Housing Boss reiterated that 75 per cent of the work had been done pending actual take off of the project, saying “Go and find out when any project reaches the procurement stage, you can be sure that 70-75 per cent of the work has been done. A lot of paper work is involved for the actual construction.”