The Federal Government, on Thursday, finally completed the concessioning of Onitsha River Port in Anambra State for N4 billion under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the federal government will earn a whooping sum of N23 billion in the 30 years duration of the concession.
Universal Elysium Consortium emerged the preferred concessionaire through an open bid process for the River Port facility which has been under concession discussion for over five years.
The Consortium comprised Universal Elysium Limited (Lead Investor), China National Electrical Engineering Limited (EPC Contractor), Port of ANTWERP (Technical Partner) and China Harbor Engineering Company (Nig.) Ltd (Technical Partner).
The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) midwifed the concession process.
In her address during the concession signing agreement after the end of the commercial bid, Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, described the concessioning of Onitsha River Port as catalyst for the rest of the River ports to be concessioned.
She assured that the concession, when fully optimised; “will attract economic benefits and create employment critical to our economy. It will also help the issue of insecurity in the country.”
Saraki also promised that the Ministry of Transportation will support the process till the financial closure of the concession.
She also said the functionality of the River Ports will decongest the seaports thus the other river ports Baro, Lokoja and Oguta will also be concessioned.
“Moving cargoes by river will reduce the pressures on our roads and the risks of tankers and trailers on the roads will equally be reduced,” she noted.
The original owners of the facility, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), expressed satisfaction with the concession.
NIWA Managing Director/CEO, Dr. George Moghalu, in his keynote address at the signing agreement described the concession as a tasking process involving several government agencies in the process, including the World Bank.
“The river channels will continue to be maintained to ensure cargoes are able to be shipped to the river ports,” he promised.
Similarly, the MD/CEO Universal Elysium Consortium Ltd, Dr. George Nwangwu, said he is comfortable making investments adding that his company is willing to invest to rehabilitate the port and make sure it runs profitably.
“We are to rehabilitate, operate and transfer back to the Federal government after 30 years. We will invest N4bn in the first instance and we will continue to invest. We are a Nigerian company and we are happy to invest in Nigeria,” he noted.