Ogbeifun: Gelegele port built to correct mistakes inherent in Lagos ports design


The Chairman, Starzs Investment Company Limited, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun has said that the Benin City River port popularly called the Gelegele port is built to correct all the mistakes made at the time the ports in Lagos were designed.

Ogbeifun who disclosed this while speaking to newsmen on the sideline of the 3rd Annual Lecture and Awards with the theme, “Assessing Nigeria’s Preparedness to Maximize the Gains of AfCFTA”, organized in Lagos by Primetime Reporters on Wednesday, stated that the port was laid out to have a robust trailer park within the port environment, a robust car holding bay so that when vehicles are imported, they must have a park, residential area among others.

Giving details of his involvement in the construction of the port, he said, “In any case, I have retired from the (maritime) industry. So, I am resting in my village in Benin but my Governor, a very wise governor, Godwin Obaseki called me and said, ‘you are retired but not tired’ and he made me the Chairman to build the Benin City River Port, what people used to call the Gelegele port.

“This has been going on for a couple of years, I found that I have to spend the first year dismantling government placed obstacles prone to making the initiative work and thankfully today, you can see a semblance of a port.

“But I tell you, what we did, you see, Warri port is there not viable, Sapele port handed over to the Navy, Koko port is struggling, Gborotu port disappeared. Why were these ports not viable? We went and looked for the reasons and when we identified the reasons, we now decided that the port we are going to build in Edo state should not be built after the above mentioned ports. And what did we decide to do? To build an agro-allied port.

“So, when you were making your speeches, I was just listening and I was feeling very good because you identified the challenge. Go to Apapa, most of the commodities are rotting away, by the time they are shipped out, before they get to their destinations, they have gone bad. So, we now decided, okay, if we can build a river port only about 49 nautical miles on the Atlantic, all the agricultural commodities coming from the north, middle belt down into Edo up to now veering out to the West, to Lagos, if we have a port on the river, Benin City river in the confluence of Ose river that is agro-allied, chances are it will help people like him and others to alternative.”

He continued, “So, we now designed a port, mainly agro port, then a general cargo port and RoRo. To my surprise, I didn’t realize that Benin City has the second largest number of cars in this country and I don’t know how. They go to get it from Cotonou or Lagos but they have the second largest number of cars. So, my Governor said can you also create an opportunity for small RoRo facility so that they can have that access. So, we are working on that and all the mistakes that were made at the time our ports in Lagos were designed, we are latching on those mistakes to correct it.”

Speaking to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Sector Matters and Secretary, National Action Committee on AfCFTA, Mr. Francis Anatogu, he said, “So, this is coming, if it means anything to you, maybe by the time we come, you will be able to put in a good word that that is the sought of thing we need to effectively participate in the African free trade initiative.”

Photo: Chairman, Starzs Investment Company Limited, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun.

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