By Ijendu Iheaka
After 15 years, work has begun at the Isiala Ngwa Inland Container Depot (ICD), with Abia Government deploying excavators to clear port site.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that signpost publicising the site at the edge of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway has also been replaced, in an apparent readiness to implement the project.
Dr Kingsley Usoh, Executive Director, East Gate Container Ltd., the Concessionnaire, told NAN that investors recently met with the Abia Government and gave it terms for participation.
According to him, Abia Government thereafter deployed the excavators to clear the site to pave way for further actions.
Usoh said Abia Government had started providing electricity, water and roads around the site, as requested by the Federal Government.
NAN reports that in May, Director, Nigeria Shippers Council, South-East Zone, Mr Winner Anayo, called on the state government to provide electricity, water and roads around the site to facilitate work.
The Isiala Ngwa Inland Container Depot, located at Ntigha, was approved alongside six others in 2007. It was the first to get certificate of occupancy in 2008.
The concessionnaires signed an agreement for commencement of construction at the site in 2009 but some factor stalled the dry port project commencement.
Before the work began last week, the project had witnessed two ground breaking ceremonies without taking off.
The first ground-breaking ceremony of was done during Chief Theodore Orji’s tenure as Abia Governor while the second was in the third year of Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu’s first tenure.
Work commenced at the site after the concessionnaire, a Chinese construction company, and the implementation committee on the dry port project, visited Ikpeazu on Friday at the Government House, Umuahia.
Ikpeazu, represented by his deputy, Mr Ude Okochukwu, urged the China Tianchen Engineering Corporation, which is handling the construction, to ensure that the 24-month deadline for the port completion would be achieved.
Ikpeazu had earlier given the assurance that the government was aware of the socio-economic importance of the port to Abia and the South-East Zone and would ensure its realisation.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Eastgate Dryport Projects Ltd., Mr Bill Nkemdirim, had said at the meeting that the project would be undertaken through a Build, Operate and Transfer arrangement that would last for 30 years.
The Abia Information Commissioner, Mr John Okeiyi-Kalu, told NAN that Abia Government was clearing the site to pave way for further development, adding that there was no going back on the project.
“Whatever is the responsibility of the Abia State Government to ensure the realisation of the project, we will do it,” he said.