By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Akwa Ibom State Government has said that the location of the Ibom Deep Seaport and Industrial City were not chosen based on sentiments but due to viability and accessibility.
The State Commissioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport, Mr Akan Okon told newsmen in Uyo yesterday that different locations were accessed by experts before the location which transversed both Mbo and Ibeno Local Government Areas was selected.
Government’s explanation according to Mr. Okon followed series of allegations by a section of Oro people that the “original” site of the seaport at “Ibaka Bay” was moved to another location due to sentiments against the people of Oron by other groups in the state.
But the explanation on the choice of the approval locations he added, has become necessary inorder to educate and disabuse the minds of agitators and ensure a peaceful environment for the developement of the Seaport by the core investors.
He maintained that government would not afford to be sentimental on a project of such magnitude and economic importance to the people of the state and Nigerians.
“We have been engaging and will still continue to engage the people so that they will understand that there is no sentiment attached to a project of that magnitude. The site was eventually chosen after studies and researchs based on viability and accessibility.
“The studies were done by experts based on outlined business case done during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan and this was before Udom Emmanuel became the Governor and so there can’t be any sentiments on this.” He insisted.
Okon explained that five locations along the Oron/Mbo/Ibeno coastline were considered and at the end of studies by experts the ‘seaside’ location was selected based on various factors including nearness to Deep Sea Trade Route, minimal environmental impact, ample space for variation and location within the industrial city.
Other factors in favour of the location according to the commissioner include minimal soil improvement, low maintenance cost, minimal social impact, low research and technical solutions, limited population and nautical accessibility.
Okon added that while the chosen location would be about 20 nautical miles from the Deep Sea Trade Route, the other locations could take up to 75 nautical miles to access the trade route.
He explained that while the seaport covered about 2,500 hectares of land,much of the industrial city covering over 14,000 hectares of land and the headquarters of the port would be located around the Mbo axis of the complex.
“Just like you have in Lagos, the Nigerian Ports Authority is in Lagos Island while the Port itself is in Apapa. So the main structure of the Port is in the seaside area while the headquarters is in the Mbo axis.” The commissioner said.
On the current state of developement of the facility, Okon said that the committee was awaiting the approvals of the studies that would be used for the bidding of the various aspects of the Seaport and Industrial City while the project has progressed technically as projected.
While appealing for understanding and cooperation from the hosts of the project, the commissioner reminded them of the need to support the core investors and urged the people of the state to position themselves academically and professionally inorder to benefit maximally from the project.