Temitope Adedeji. Akure
The Federal Government of Nigeria has finally agreed to open discussions with the Ondo state government on the project of a seaport, which is believed to have the largest coastline in the country.
This development is coming on the heels of the cancellation of the $2.6bn Badagry deep seaport project by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). The Badagry project was reportedly halted on the ground that the deep seaport master plan was wrongly done.
The Managing Director of the NPA, Hajia Hadiza-Bala Usman, was reported to have explained that what was currently required in Nigeria was to fast-track the development of deep seaports that would make the nation’s seaports competitive.
In a bid to finding an alternative to the cancelled Badagry seaport project, the NPA boss is expected to have a preliminary meeting with Governor Akeredolu on the possibility of exploring a “seamless but due process” to commence the construction of a deep seaport at Araromi seaside in Ilaje local government area of Ondo State. The meeting will hold next week, barring the unforeseen.
An impeccable source in the Federal Ministry of Transport who gave the hint said the option to develop the Ondo seaport was informed by certain natural advantages the site had aside the preliminary technical efforts the state government had put in that regards.
“From the look of things, the next destination after Badagry had been cancelled, remains Araromi in the coast of Ilaje local government in Ondo state, and we are committed to this because we are already under pressure to find lasting solutions to the embarrassing gridlock in the Apapa area of Lagos.
“Already, arrangements have been concluded for the NPA team to meet the Ondo state government to explore a seamless but due process towards the realisation of the project.
*We are aware that so much efforts have been put by the state governor for there to be a seaport along the coastline of that state and precisely in Araromi where there is a natural trench and deeper raft than the Badagry project which would been more expensive to embark upon because it lacked the required minimum of 16 meter raft in depth.
“I can emphatically day that the technical efforts of the Ondo state government appear to have jump started the process because we followed up and we are almost convinced that Ondo state has a deeper raft advantage than any other in the country, so we may have no choice than to look in the direction of Ondo.
He said the choice of Ondo, aside the natural advantages was info date by its proximity to the south east and south via Okitipupa and Ore.
Giving reasons for the cancellation of the Badagry project, the NPA boss said it was done to avoid financial and commercial liabilities.
“If you look at the Badagry and the Lekki deep seaport projects, they are all within the Western ports. The port master plan will guide us on whether it is okay to have two deep seaports in close proximity to each other.”
“When I assumed office, I inherited a consultant that was supposed to do a Port Master Plan for the Badagry project, but the consultant did a very bad job. When we took the job to the consultant that did the project’s Terms Of Reference, our internal people looked at it and said it wasn’t good enough. Even the consultant that did the TOR confirmed that the job wasn’t properly done.
“So because of these issues, we cancelled the contract, and the project’s promoters took us to court. We are currently in arbitration. Now we are working on re-awarding the contract. I just gave the go-ahead for the engagement of another consultant that will do the Port Master Plan. The master plan will allow us to know where ports should be deployed in the country in-view of environmental issues, in view of commercial and financial liabilities”, she said.