The Akwa Ibom State Government has made another significant leap in its bid to actualise the Ibom deep seaport project.
This follows the Pre Bid Conference with three firms that are pushing for the development of the project, which held in Government House, Uyo last week.
The Consortium of Bollore and Power China, China Road Breach Corporation (CRBC) and China Harbour Engineering Company of Nigeria are the international firms that are vying for the project.
Addressing the Technical Committee on Ibom Industrial City and Deep Seaport, representatives of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), consultants and other stakeholders after the conference, Governor Udom Emmanuel told the bidders that they would not have asked for a better investment opportunity than the Ibom deep seaport.
Governor Emmanuel described the proposed Ibom deep seaport as standing in a very good position to serve the South-South, South-East and Middle Belt, up to Abuja while also servicing the Gulf of Guinea.
The Governor explained the challenges of operating a single seaport in Nigeria and stated that a country of over 170 million people cannot be fed from only one seaport.
"People try to compare our port with others, this is a natural draught, you do not need to worry about dredging or any other thing," the Governor assured.
He said that the port will be digital with at least four exits to ease traffic congestion within and outside the facility.
The Governor expressed appreciation to the Federal Government for the support in respect of the project and assured that the state and other stakeholders involved in the development of Ibom Seaport will get it done in compliance with international standard.
Governor Emmanuel also had kind words for the Technical Committee, saying "they have worked seriously to get to where we are today.
Sometimes I refuse thanking them but I thank God for the wisdom in setting up this committee."
He also thanked the Nigerian Ports Authority, the consultants and others, saying that the step taken by Akwa Ibom State to build a seaport is that which shall be of benefit to generations yet unborn.
He pointed out that latest technology will be applied to make sure goods are cleared at a very fast pace to enable investors realize the return on their investment right on time.
While presenting an address, the Chairman, Ibom Deep Seaport and Industrial City Technical Committee; Mrs Mfon Ekon Usoro announced that they just completed a Pre Bid Conference for the port development with the three qualified bidders and other stakeholders.
Mrs Usoro quickly explained that the conference with the bidders is a mandatory requirement in the Federal Government procurement process.
She said they gave them more information about the project with the hope that they would be able to submit robust proposals to the Ministerial Projects Development Steering Committee for evaluation before the parties involved get to the next stage of the project.
In her words, "we have attained another milestone in the project development of Ibom Deep Seaport. At the end of the evaluation, the preferred bidder will be announced and thereafter get to negotiation with sponsors on the concession and share holders' agreement."
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Special Duties, Mr Akan Okon corroborated the explanation by the Technical Committee Chairman, noting that before the end of the year, they should come to the end of the entire transaction since everyone involved in the project was showing great commitment.
In a remark, the Chairman, Project Development Steering Committee and Director, Maritime Services, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Sani Umar Galadanchi said the Minister of Transportation has passion for the project and promised to continue to work with the state Technical Committee and other stakeholders to achieve result.
"This project is not just for Akwa Ibom State, it is for the country and Africa in general. I wish to inform you that we have been working in a way that by God's grace, the project may commence sooner than later." Galadanchi noted.
In the same vein, the Director of Transportation, Onwode Emmnauel said the process so far was done under very strict compliance with the guidelines and expressed the readiness to certify the next stage of the process and see how they can meet up with what he called, aggressive time table for the project.
He further explained that, "all these put together, we have a November--December date which the Technical Committee is working with. We are leaving no stone unturned to make sure we achieve that."
The representatives of Bollore and Power China, that of China Harbour Engineering Company Limited, all described the Port development project as a mega facility while also hoping to emerge the preferred bidder.
The Secretary to the State Government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, Commissioner for Transportation and Petroluem Resources, Mr. Orman Esin, Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Mr Charles Udoh, Commissioner for Special Duties, Mr Akan Okon, Special Advisers, Members of the Technical Committee on Ibom Deep Seaport, representatives of Federal Ministry of Transportation, NPA, Consultants and others witnessed the investment interaction.