By Ubon Akpan
The Ibom Deep Sea Port, a pet project of the Akwa Ibom State government, is still on course.
Promoters of the project 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.
However, industry watchers saw that as an indication that the Deep Seaport, capable of handling about 9 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 its major platform to drive its industrialization Agenda in the state.
In spite of its strategic positioning on the State Governments economic development schedule, work on the project appeared to have slowed down considerably, particularly in the year 2017 when not much has been heard on its progress.
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 top government technocrats but also secured a 50 year concession from the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).
The Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel had said the Ibom Industrial City project will 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 is also strongly promoting its plans for the development of another deep seaport.
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.