By Eromosele Abiodun
The Governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has stated that the development of a deep seaport project in the state will generate more than N500 billion investment to the host communities in Ilaje Local Government Area where the state government is proposing to establish the port.
Speaking at the stakeholders’ forum relating to the Environmental Site Investment Assessment (ESIA) and Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) for the project, where he met with traditional rulers and representatives of the community in Akure, the Ondo State capital, Akeredolu assured them that the project remained at the top of his list of priorities for the state.
Also present were the consultants to the project, representatives of the Federal and State Ministry of Environment and Community Based Organisations (CBOs). Akeredolu, while soliciting the support of the host communities and traditional rulers towards the actualisation of the project, said the state government had spent hundreds of millions of naira on the required studies carried out by local and international consultants.
He added the state government was working towards obtaining a Port Declaration for the seaport from the federal government.
He said: “The deep seaport and the Industrial City project will attract massive investment to the State in particular and Nigeria in general. The one singular project that will change this State totally is the port. Building of the port alone will bring about N500 billion economic activities to that area.
“This is the most serious business and important project we want to embark on as a government. Every other thing becomes secondary. We have spent millions of naira on the required studies. We don’t have the money but we will set aside as many projects as we can to get this port done so that the quality will meet the standard expected of us by the federal government.
“For us to build this Port of Ondo, there are three levels to these efforts. There is the federal government level, which the state is managing and we believe that we are making reasonable progress. There is the work to be done level, and we have spent millions of naira on the required studies, bringing in local and international consultants.
“Another effort by this administration is to make sure there is conducive atmosphere for the consultants to do their work in the affected communities, and that is where our traditional rulers need to come in.”
Akeredolu, assured affected communities whose property, farm lands and means of livelihood would be affected by the construction of the seaport of adequate compensation and relocation to comfortable sites.
This, he said, was why government placed premium on the processes and procedures of the ESIA and the RAP.
The Special Adviser Development and Investment and Chief Executive Officer, Ondo State Development and Investment Promotion Agency (ONDIPA), Mr. Boye Oyewumi, said the port, upon completion, will be a game changer not just for the State but the country.
He said it was expected that the Outline Business Case (OBC), which is the last set of reports for the port declaration would be completed before the end of April.
The various traditional rulers present at the assured Akeredolu of unalloyed support and cooperation of the Ilaje ncommunity in ensuring the realisation of the port project in view of its benefits to the state.
The site of the proposed Port of Ondo, which also has an industrial city with Free Trade Zone status, measures 2,771.2 hectares. The site is accessible from Ore through a new dual carriageway, which will be constructed from Araromi to Lekki in Lagos and when completed it will take only 45 minutes from the port to Lagos.