By Chris Chimezie & Evelyn Omotoye
Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), has said that the proposed multipurpose Deep Seaport in the state would galvanize the economy of the state and link it with the international community.
Akeredolu stated this during the consultancy services agreement signing between the state government and Maritime and Transport Business Solutions (MTBS), for the conduct and preparation of feasibility study and conceptual master plan design for the development of the Deep Sea-port at Erunna-Ogboti-Ugbonla in Ilaje Local Government Area of the state.
Represented by the Deputy Governor, Hon Agboola Ajayi, Akeredolu said the project would solve the congestion problem which has become perennial in Lagos, hence the need to allow for the development of more ports.
Apart from decongesting the Lagos Port, the Governor noted that it will go a long way to boost the economic growth of the state through the mega city project that will house industries as well as other economic potentials.
“Nigeria can afford up to five ports. We can’t just stay in Apapa and think things would improve and I’m sure the country is looking up to us and we are believing in you, our partners for the realisation of this project.
“This development is an attestation of the present administration’s commitment to industrialise the state through seaport development for the benefit of the people.
“Signing of the agreement is to implement the core cardinal programmes of this administration with a view to boost the socio-economic growth of the state by maximising its potentials”, he said.
Describing the proposed port as a good legacy of the present administration, he emphasised that thousands of employment opportunities will be created through the project.
He, however, noted that the state is the most peaceful of the Niger Delta states because it carries everybody along in its programmes.
In his presentation, Managing Director of Maritime Business and Transport Solution Limited (MBTS), Mr Paul Van Eulem explained that his Company would carry out feasibility study, which he said would take 10 weeks, plan, design before moving into implementation.
The Managing Director who noted that MTBS is well established, building, seaports across the world, stated that the proposed Port would ease Lagos Port and would be financially viable.
He promised that the company would invest its vast network and knowledge to the project.
Earlier, Special Adviser to the Governor on Business Development and Chairman Ondo State Investment and Promotion Agency (ONDIPA), Mr Boye Oyewumi commended Governor Akeredolu for his efforts at changing the state from a civil service state to an industrialised one.
He said the project marks the beginning of the State’s industrialisation process which would open it up for business and employment opportunities and change its landscape .
“Ondo is walking its talk by making the seaport development a reality. Finally, work has started there and we already have 45 Consultants on the field working day and night and the Dutch Consultants will also join them to do the port feasibility study .
“This signifies that the people of Ondo State and the South West in particular must get ready because there is a revolution coming.
“When you have a Deep seaport, an Industrial City and a Free Trade Zone, all on the same site, then everyone would know we are ready for business. There is no part of this country that has those facilities domiciled in the same place as we have it here”, he said.
He hinted that the project which would be in phases, would take between 10-20 years to be completed, adding that it would create abundance of direct and indirect jobs and opportunities for residents of the areas who are the direct beneficiaries.
“We also want to enskil the beneficiaries to enable them tap into the opportunities that would come from this new ventures because we want to avoid a situation whereby the job would go to outsiders.
“We want the jobs to remain in those communities so that every expenditure, investment would be domiciled in those communities”, he stated
Also, Chairman of the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC), Hon Gbenga Edema described the project as alandmark in the process of developing the state and Ilaje in particular.
He commended Governor Akeredolu for being committed to his promises of developing the coastal area without which the state would remain an administrative and a civil service state.
Edema stated that the Commission was responsible for creating a conducive environment for the business to thrive and have also moved to enskil the people of the area via vocational studies to get them prepared for the take-off of the project so that they don’t lose out when it comes to the search for these who will to man the equipment.
While commending residents of the area who he described as the first beneficiaries for their massive cooperation so far, he asked for their total support towards ensuring that all the projects come to fruition.
On his own, ONDIPA Business Adviser, Mr Ayo Ipaye hinted that the industrial estate within the Mega City in the area, would create a new market for foreign investment and would further generate significant employment opportunities.
He added that it would also enhance the livelihood of both Ondo State indigenes and all Nigerians who would wish to migrate to the zone.
Ipaye who stressed that the project spreads across a proposed 30,000 hectares of land, hinted that it would be the most significant project in the country in the next few years.
Present at the event were : Secretary to the Ondo State Government (SSG), Hon Ifedayo Abegunde, Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief Olugbenga Ale, Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Mr Donald Ojogo, his counterpart for Economic Planning and Budget, Pastor Emmanuel Igbasan, Commissioner for Environment, Mr Funso Esan, Secretary, ONDIPA, Mr Emmanuel Omomowo and others.