By Bernard Tolani Dada, Uyo
The Akwa Ibom State commissioner for economic development and Ibom deep seaport, Mr Akan Okon, has said the location of the Ibom Deep Seaport and industrial city was chosen due to viability and accessibility not on sentiment.
He told newsmen in Uyo yesterday that different areas were accessed by experts before the location.
Okon’s explanation followed allegations by a section of Oron people who said the original site of the seaport at Ibaka Bay was moved to another location due to sentiment against the people of Oron by other groups in the state.
But the commissioner said the explanation on the choice of the approved location had become necessary in order to correct the impression and ensure a peaceful environment for the development of the seaport by the core investors.
He maintained that government would not afford to be sentimental on a project of such magnitude.
“We have been engaging and will still continue to talk to the people so that they will understand that there is no sentiment attached to a project of that magnitude.
“The studies were done by experts based on an outlined business case done during the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan and this was before Udom Emmanuel became the governor and so there can’t be any sentiment on this,” he said.
Okon said five locations along the Oron/Mbo/Ibeno coastline were considered and at the end of studies by experts the seaside location was selected based on various factors including nearness to deep sea trade route, minimal environmental impact, ample space for variation and location within the industrial city.
Other factors in favour of the location according to the commissioner include soil improvement, low maintenance cost, social impact, low research technical solutions, limited population and nautical accessibility.
Okon added that while the location would be about 20 nautical miles from the deep sea trade route, the other locations could take up to 75 nautical miles to access the trade route.
He said while the seaport covered about 2,500 hectares of land, much of the industrial city covering over 14,000 hectares of land and the headquarters of the port would be located around the Mbo axis of the complex.
“Just like you have in Lagos, the Nigerian Ports Authority is in Lagos Island while the Port itself is in Apapa.
“So the main structure of the port is in the seaside area while the headquarters is in the Mbo axis,” the commissioner said.
On the current state of development of the facility, Okon said the committee was awaiting the approval of the studies that would be used for the bidding of the various aspects of the seaport and industrial city while the project had progressed technically as projected.
While appealing for understanding and cooperation of the host communities of the project, the commissioner reminded them of the need to support the core investors and urged people of the state to position themselves academically and professionally in order to benefit maximally from the project.