The Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority(NPA), Engr. Omar Suleiman, has said the proposed Ibaka deep seaport in Akwa-Ibom State would start receiving ocean lines not later than 2015.
The NPA said this at the official handing over of the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O)of the land by the Akwa-Ibom State governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, in Abuja recently.
The port is being developed by the authority in partnership with the Akwa-Ibom State government, which provided over 5,580sqm of land for the citing of the new seaport.
To facilitate the commencement of the project,Akpabio at the occasion, said he would within the next one month, award contract for the dualisation of the port’s main access road to link the East –West road with a view to making it more intermodal. The state government also handed over the masterplan of the port to the NPA managing director at the event.
“We were spurred to fast track work on the surveying and parcelling out of the cite after the last visit of President Goodluck Jonathan to the State where he pledged to support citing of project in an area that has comparative advantage rather than based on ethnic sentiments,” Governor Akpabio said.
“The infrastructure for a deep sea port is huge, but we are prepared to offer assistance to NPA at whatever points it will be needed. My government is fully ready to partner with NPA to ensure that the necessary infrastructure for effective take-off of the port is provided,” he added.
The governor also took time to allay fears of insecurity of investment in the port in view of the menace of pirates in the Nigerian territorial waters, saying that the federal government had granted the state its request to establish full military presence in the area.
“So with the presence of the Army and the Navy, complementing the Marine Police, there will be adequate security of investments as the area will be a no go area for sea robbers and other criminals,” the governor said.
While noting that the port would be the hub of oil and gas operation in the Gulf of Guinea when the multi-billion naira project was completed, Akpabio however, said that what was needed to realise the project was infrastructure.
The Ibaka port is said to be between 17 and 18 meters draught without dredging and its quay area will span over two miles in length. It is hoped that on completion, mega vessels of over 10,000 TEUs would be calling at the port and that would make it the largest in the region.
Earlier, the Managing Director of NPA expressing delight in the gesture of the governor noted that the move to establish the deep sea port was a major step in the nation’s quest of becoming the hub of maritime operation in the West and Central African sub-region.
He assured that the Authority would partner with Akwa Ibom State to ensure that the necessary infrastructure was provided. He disclosed that the port project was intermodal and would see the construction of port access roads and mono-rail to ensure easy evacuation of goods out of the port.