The Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, says the Onitsha river port is positioned to generate over N23billion to the Federal Government in 30 years.
For about five years, the government and investors had been engaged in discussions on the concession of the facility.
But, a concessionaire; Universal Elysium Consortium has been announced as the preferred bidder for the port after an open bid process.
Universal Elysium Consortium is comprised of Universal Elysium Limited (lead Investor), China National Electrical Engineering Limited (EPC contractor), Port of ANTWERP (technical partner) and China Harbor Engineering Company (Nig.) Ltd (technical partner).
The concession process was mid-wifed by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, as the concession agreement was signed at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Transportation in Abuja.
The minister, during the signing of the concession of the port in Abuja, said the port had lots of economic benefits to the country.
According to her, the port will among other things, ensure the 60 per cent shiped cargoes which hitherto goes through Onne port to Onitsha to be transported directly.
”So there is a lot of economic growth, there is going to be creation of wealth, creation of jobs, security and greater development.
”We hope it is a catalyst for other river ports, so that it will decongest other ports and bring about growth.
”You know the traffic on our road, the state of our roads as well as the tankers, and freight being moved on our roads have now reduced.
”And so, it is a very good thing and we are exceptionally proud that at long last we have actually achieved this.
”It’s being signed and we look forward to the growth there to materialise,”Saraki said.
According to the minister, the Baro, Lokoja and Oguta ports, which are at different stages of completion, will be considered after the Onitsha port.
”The most important thing is that we already have interest from potential investors who want to actually take over this.”
The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA); the original owners of the facility expressed satisfaction with the concession of the River Port.
The Managing Director, NIWA; Dr George Moghalu, said several government agencies were involved in the concession process including the World Bank.
Moghalu, said the Onitsha port would reduce the volume of cargoes transported via roads to the South East.
Moghalu said: ”Our roads are not designed to carry the kind of weight they are carrying.
”Over 60 per cent of the containers that arrive Nigeria through Onne, Tin Can or Apapa port ends up in Onitsha and what it translates is that these containers are moved by trailers.
”Onitsha port is very well positioned to play a key role in addressing this if opportunities are provided.”
He commended the concessioneers in the efforts they were already making in bringing in investors into the country.
Moghalu also expressed hope that the concessioing would open up opportunities for other ports in the country to be given due considerations.
Meanwhile, the Acting Director-General, Infrastructure Concesion Regulatory Commission,(ICRC) Mr Michael Ohiani, reiterated that the 30 years concession would generate over N23 billion to the government.
He said: ”After rigorous procurement process, Universal Elysium Consortium emerged as the preferred concessionaire for the concession of Onitsha River Port.
”Over the 30-year concession period, the concessionaire will be responsible for all the activities and maintenance of the port.
”The asset along with the entire infrastructure will be returned to the authorities at the end of the concession period.
”The redevelopment of Onitsha River Port is seen as a boost to commercial activities in the South East.
”Importers and traders from the commercial towns of Onitsha, Nnewi, Aba and Ogbete-Enugu see the re-launch as a welcome development from the Federal Government.
”The port will serve as an alternative mode of transporting goods from Lagos and Port Harcourt by road.
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