Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport, Akan Okon, has explained that the project would be developed in phases.
He told Afriupdate that the construction of the first phase would gulp $2.016b, adding that the phase would generate about 300,000 jobs, while 3,500 companies are expected to operate at the seaport by the end of 2023.
He made this known while speaking with newsmen in Uyo yesterday, adding that the state government would provide 40 per cent of the funding, while 60 per cent would come from the preferred bidder.
Okon said: “60 per cent of the funding will come from core investors, Bollore ChinaPower Consortium which is the preferred bidder. They are already managing 23 ports in Africa while we believe that their experience and contacts will attract businesses and more investors to the seaport.”
The seaport, with its ancillary industrial city meant for large industries and covering Mbo and Ibeno local councils of the state, would commence operations before the end of 2023.
According to him, the possibility of an early projected operational date was because the state government and the preferred bidder had already undertaken some technical aspects of the port development before the approval last week.
Okon, who is also a former Commissioner of Finance, stressed that in spite of the existence of other seaports in the Niger Delta region, the natural depth of Ibom Deep Seaport would offer more benefits to businesses, as it would serve as a clearing point for bigger vessels.
“The advantage of the Ibom Deep Seaport is in its natural location. For instance, the Lagos Port in terms of draft after dredging is just about 12m so large vessels can’t berth there. They have to wait in the high sea and need smaller vessels to bring cargo to the ports, but big vessels can come into the Ibom Deep Seaport even without dredging.
“It has a draft of 18m and a turning basin of 600m designed for vessels that can carry 120,000 Dead Weight Tonnage and will have 10 terminals. So it can actually allow for another vessel to come in without waiting for the first vessel to be discharged.
“It is also designed to be a trans shipping port, which means goods meant for neighbouring African countries can be transshipped from here using smaller vessels,” he said.
Okon added that the presence of the industrial city would also boost business and attract more cargoes to the seaport and would add to its capacity and reduce the number of clearing days.
“It will also be an additional source of revenue to the Federal Government and the Akwa Ibom State government because its impact will not only be felt in the host communities, but also in nearby communities, he added.
He allayed fears over the possibility of abandoning the project, noting that, due diligence was done before the approval of the project to ensure its success, while the state government undertook several engagements with the host communities.