…Gives update on Gelegele port development
The immediate past President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun has said that the biggest enjoyment that he has now is being a motor mechanic.
Ogbeifun who disclosed this in a chat with newsmen in Lagos recently observed that after being a ship owner and a ship repairer, he was now a motor mechanic because he set up an ultra-modern automobile centre in Benin which, according to him, there was nothing like it in the South-South at the moment.
His words, “I must give kudos to my loving wife who repackages me every time I am down and always there to encourage and support me and of course, my family. But the biggest enjoyment I have now is being a motor mechanic. So, after being a ship owner and a ship repairer, I am now a motor mechanic because I set up an ultra-modern automobile centre in Benin which there is nothing like it in the South-South at the moment. So, that is keeping me happy, creating opportunities for young people again. Already, we have over sixty staff there and it is only three months and still growing.
“So, if you are passing through Benin with your car, you can swing by, let us change your oil and chop some of your money. Millions of our youths are suffering when they shouldn’t be suffering. Why am I a motor mechanic in Benin? I saw an opportunity to create something different that will challenge the government. Now, if you come to our workshop, we have university graduates with Masters proudly telling you I am a mechanic, the technology is there, it is ICT driven and of course, I take the lead as the Chief Mechanic of the Workshop.
Giving update on Gelegele Port development, Ogbeifun who is also the Chairman of the Port Development Committee hinted that his committee had done a lot of works on the port project adding that the Edo Geographical Information System (GIS) teams were out there concluding the survey of the whole area.
He said, “We have a lead consultant who is doing the ESIA right now. We have three estate firms carrying out the evaluation and enumeration for compensation of the area but more importantly, only last week and for me, that is a milestone achievement, we signed a contract agreement with an international consortium of Transaction Advisers based in Canada and in Denmark who are working with us for the actualization of this project.”
The Starzs Investment Group Chairman pointed out that the intention was that the port project was going to be a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement where the state would take a minority stake and then, the private sector would take the majority stake.
“Also, we are looking at concessioning the components of the port, like the trailer park can be concessioned to a company through a competitive bid, the agro-industrial park will be concessioned, the port structure itself will be concessioned so that no one entity can have a monopoly and collectively, hopefully, they should be able to deliver on a concept which the state governor is really developing jealously”, he stated.
On how the port could fit into the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), he said, “That is actually one of the primary reason why we are doing what we are doing right now because African free trade is going to be involving a lot of movement of food. Most African countries are hungry, so, the first thing is to be able to move food. It will also encourage our own local farmers. For instance, if you go to Benue state, the food basket of the country, you will find that most of the things they produce are rotting away because of lack of movement, lack of export but now, with the north-south rail system and very soon, east-west rail system, we are hoping to extend the rail system from Agbor to the port, it is only about 44 miles. Then, that way, we can move food all the way from the north through Agbor to the port for export.
“Now the idea of the industrial park is, perhaps, most of the importers of the Nigerian agricultural produce outside the country, may decide to come and set up semi-processing plants in the industrial park or even food processing plant so that instead of risking the damage of the things you are importing, they can finish it in Nigeria and export it to anywhere they want. It is still going to create economic activities, maybe then, we have to create a free zone environment to make it attractive for them because of tax.
“So, there is a lot we are hoping to achieve and we hope, it is going to be a river port not deep sea. So, that means it is going to be a light import to a deep sea port and also a feeder port.”
Photo: Chairman, Starzs Group, Engr.Greg Ogbeifun.
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