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FG to begin concessioning of Onitsha Ports in two weeks

By on February 7, 2013

FOUR months after commissioning the project, the Federal Government, through the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), is to begin the process of concessioning the Onitsha River Port to a private individual in the next two weeks.

The N2.7billion Inland River Port in Oguta, Imo State will also be completed by March 2014.

The project, which was awarded to Scott Amede Engineering and Power Supply Ltd in partnership with Zhunhai Minghong Group Company Ltd in 2009, was originally scheduled for completion in March this year.

It was gathered at the weekend that, of the N2.7 billion value of the contract, the sum of N1.8bilion had been paid to the contractor.

Speaking when the National Good Governance Tour Team visited the port Complex in Onitsha, General Manager of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Mr. Mike Dike, said contract for the rehabilitation of the port and supply/installation of Cargo handling equipment was awarded to Inter-Bau Construction Ltd in 2009 at the cost of N4.7billion, adding that the project was completed in March 2012 and commissioned by the President in September.

He observed that the President gave a directive that the port be concessioned. According to him, the concessioning process is in line with a “business study” that was sponsored by the World Bank. He noted that the satisfactory study was completed and submitted last month, saying that advertisement for the concessioning process would be due in two weeks time.

In his response, Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, said the first attempt to open up the nation’s waterways started in 1953 but was implemented under the late President Umar Yar’adua in 2009 with the dredging of the
Lower Niger, which has been completed.

The Minister noted that government has awarded the contract for consultancy services for the dredging of River Benue and is awaiting the report.

He observed that construction of the ports would open up economic activities in host communities as well as reduce pressure on the roads.

…To Revamp Lower Anambra Irrigation Project To Boost Rice Production

The Federal Government is to complete the rehabilitation of the deteriorated Lower Anambra irrigation project, which was established in 1981.

Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, who stated this at the weekend when he led the National Good Governance Team on a visit to the project site in Omor, Ayamelum Local Government Area of the State, said it had become necessary for government to revamp the project and hand it over to the private sector.

Maku observed that the Federal Government had created synergy with the private sector to achieve self sufficiency in rice production by 2015, which gave rise to the renewed momentum to harness the full potential of the Lower Anambra Irrigation Project.

He said, “”What the government is doing now is to prepare this project site for investment. I am sure that Anambra State alone can give Nigeria sufficient rice for domestic consumption and export,” he stated.

The Minister sadly noted that the irrigation project, which was established in 1981, was run down due to lack of maintenance, a situation he attributed to government’s characteristic inefficiency in handling such projects. According to him, under the new Agriculture policy, the private sector would take the lead in production to guarantee food security. He noted that the project, if handled by government agencies, would not achieve its desired goals.

“If we revive this agricultural project now and hand it over to the government to run, I can be very sure that, in another five years, we would come back and find the same problem,” he said.

He admitted that successive governments were unable to deliver on agriculture because they were based on the ideology that government should run agriculture to produce rice and sell in the market, the same reason many government agencies failed.

“If it was private farmers that had this opportunity, I am sure that the project would never have failed. It has not failed in other countries, but it failed here because of our attitude, in the public service particularly. This is the same reason the railway system failed, NITEL failed, Nigeria Airways and several other agencies… because government and public service was unable to run them…,” he said.

Managing Director of the project, Mr. Onu Eletuk, said that the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Water Resources in 2005 commenced the rehabilitation of the project, but that work has not been completed due to inadequate release of funds.

According to him, the irrigation project, which was taking 20 cubic metres of water per minute from the Anambra River, suffered setback due to lack of maintenance from successive governments. This led to total collapse of the project.

“From the time it was established to the later 1990’s, a lot of facilities had broken down and production of rice from the project had reduced drastically.”