Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, Chairman, Equatorial Marine Oil and Gas Company Ltd, concessionaire of the Funtua Inland Dry Port, says several changes of the Minister of Transportation since 2006 is affecting the progress of the project.
Mutallab made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said that the management of the dry port could not make significant progress in the past because different ministers had their different ideology.
According to him, some ministers did not give attention to the project, not until the present administration came onboard.
“As you rightly said, we were given the project sometime in 2006 and since then we had several ministers of transportation and each one with his perception and that obviously delayed the progress of the project.
“That period we met probably half a dozen different Ministers of Transport. So this clearly overwhelmed the improvement of the project until this last few years when it was given a better focus and how to approach it and open it,’’ he said.
Mutallab said that the project was estimated to cost over N3 billion but as a result of the exchange rate of naira to dollar over the years, the price increased.
“The cost at the initial stage was estimated to cost about two to three billion naira but now the cost has escalated because the prices of equipment have gone up and these equipment are expensive.
“We are hoping and praying that at the end of the day, the necessary equipment that will be utilised for the dry port would be purchased.
“Obviously we have to put our equity, our money. We are also applying for a loan from ECOWAS bank and we are hoping that they assist in getting the finances organised.
“The normal rule of loan is 30-70 per cent equity loan. It could be 40-60, it all depends but it should not be far from 30-70 per cent.
“We can’t even give the exact estimate because some of the equipment, we are yet to discuss. So we are just keeping our fingers crossed and at the end of the day we hope to have enough funds to finance the dry port,’’ Mutallab said.
He however, noted that they had invited other interested investors to come and join in the construction.
Mutallab noted that Nigeria had been seen as a rail transport country which was beneficial because of its ability to carry large quantity of goods and passengers.
He, however, urged the Federal Government to connect the rail to the ports, noting that they hope to complete the dry port this year.
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