The Oyo State Government and the Federal Government have fine-tuned agreement on the proposed $99,665,626 (N35.9bn) Ibadan Inland Dry Port, which is expected to ease the pressure on the Apapa Seaport and the perennial gridlock on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.
The agreement was signed by the Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi on behalf of the state, while the Transport Minister, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, signed on behalf of the FG at a brief ceremony, at the governor’s office, Ibadan, on Tuesday.
The minister was in company with the Executive Secretary, Nigeria Shippers Council, Mr Hassan Bello; with the team later embarking on an inspection tour of the light rail project site, along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
In his remarks, Bello said that the project would gulp $99,665,626 (N35.9bn), and would have equipment parking, trucks parking, among other facilities, while it would occupy 90 hectares of land, which the state government already provided.
Also speaking at the event, the minister forewarned the state to be prepared to inherit the traffic congestion that characterizes the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, the gateway to the Apapa seaport, when the Lagos-Ibadan corridor of the light rail project is completed.
He minister explained that transportation of containers and commercial goods through the Ibadan rail to the proposed inland dry port would be expected to ease the perennial gridlock on the Apapa end of the expressway.
He said that this will lessen the burden on the Apapa Seaport, which is currently the largest and busiest seaport in the country, housing several ports and terminals.
To guard against possible traffic congestion, as currently being experienced in Apapa, Amaechi advised the state’s incoming administration to open up the adjoining roads around the proposed Dry Port.
The minister expressed appreciation to the governor for making the dream of Ibadan Inland Dry Port a reality by providing the land and facilitating necessary logistics for the project.
Amaechi used the opportunity to commend what he called the governor’s visible impact on the landscape and governance of Oyo State, which he said his sworn critics never failed to acknowledge.
The minister said, “You are concluding your second term on a very strong note of performance and unequal pacesetting. Not all governors finished this way.
“Most of your detractors even acknowledged the fact that you have done so much in infrastructural facilities and other areas where you have touched lives.
“History will judge you well. For me, I don’t think of what people talk about me. I only care about how I do what I do. You have journeyed well and I congratulate you and your family for your success.
“Let me quickly add that the Lagos-Ibadan light rail project would, on completion, ease the Apapa-Lagos expressway gridlock and my fear is whether Oyo State is ready for the shift of the gridlock to this axis of Ibadan.
“Containers and imported goods will now be transported to Ibadan and the rest of the country through the light rail and this will aggravate commercial activities at the Inland Dry Port end until there is continuation of the rail project towards the Ibadan-Kano corridor.
“So I will advise that the incumbent and the incoming governor to work together and open up roads around the Ibadan Inland Dry Port to avert a transfer of the stress of Apapa expressway to Ibadan.”
While responding, Ajimobi assured that instead of experiencing traffic gridlock, Ibadan would rather experience a gridlock of progress and immense growth of commerce.
The governor assured that the dry port would improve economic growth, job opportunities and improve the standard of living of the state in general.
He praised the efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government in building a better Nigeria, part of which he said was the construction of the light rail to ease transportation of goods and passengers across the nation.