• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Obaseki breaks 75-yr Benin Port jinx as Mota Engil Africa emerges developer

Edo grows annual budget from N116bn to N320bn in 7yrs- Obaseki

After 75 years of stalling, the Benin Port project is finally kicking off with the emergence of Mota Engil Africa as the preferred bidder.

The port construction is one of the most ambitious legacy projects of Governor Godwin Obaseki-led Edo State government.

Greg Ogbeifun, chairman of the Benin Port Project, confirmed the emergence of Mota Engil Africa, after a one-week evaluation exercise conducted on the bids received in response to the request for proposals. Three pre-qualified bidders- China Harbour Engineering Company (China), Mota-Engil Africa (Portugal), and Yilport Holding Inc (Turkey), bid for the project.

Mota Engil Africa, which is also handling the Kano-Maradi rail project of the Federal Government, recently took delivery of $200m worth of equipment, showcasing its capacity to deliver on big-ticket projects.

Efforts to construct the port had persisted unsuccessfully for over 75 years after it was first proposed, as regulatory, funding and institutional setbacks halted various moves to embark on the project.

Governor Obaseki had promised to build the port during his campaigns in 2016 and has ever since pursued the actualisation of the project, navigating an extremely complex maze of regulatory and institutional challenges.

The governor had in his New Year address in 2017 announced the set-up of a seven-man committee chaired by Greg Ero, to lead the development of the port project. The committee was eventually succeeded by the Ogbeifun-led Benin Port project team, which is currently handling the project.

Reacting to the success of the bid process, Obaseki said it was delightful that the project is finally kicking-off to serve as a launchpad for the expansion of Edo’s $11.8bn economy. He believed this will catalyse the growth of agriculture, real estate, manufacturing, food processing, automotive, power, retail and extractive sectors.

Read also: Nigeria’s capital importation hits $1.1 bn in Q1 2023

“We are now set for the commencement of this landmark project, which will open a new vista of opportunities for Edo people and Nigerians in general,” he noted.

Detailing the process leading to the emergence of the preferred bidder, Joe Aigboduwa, the project director, Benin Port, said: “Request for Proposal (RFP) documents had been issued to the prequalified bidders on April 18, 2023. A pre-bid conference was held with the bidders on April 26, 2023, followed by visits to the project site from June 13- 14, 2023. Bids were eventually submitted in Abuja on the due date of Friday, June 30, 2023.

“The very rigorous and transparent evaluation exercise was conducted by the Project Delivery Team (PDT) and coordinated by the Transaction Adviser (CPCS Transcom) in compliance with international best practices. The technical proposals were first opened and evaluated from Monday, July 3, to Thursday, July 6, 2023. The exercise culminated in the public opening of the compliant financial proposals on Friday, July 7, 2023, in the presence of the bidders.”

The 300,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) Benin Port would reactivate pre-colonial trade routes through the Benin and Osse Rivers, which was where the Portuguese first had contact with the Benin Kingdom in 1472 AD.

The Obaseki-led government has rolled out an expansive plan for the Benin Port, which is designed to be a unique agro-based Port in Nigeria that encompasses a complete smart port community complex for industrial processing and export of agricultural produce and other goods, with independent, clean and renewable energy installations.

The container and multipurpose terminals of the port would also have RoRo facilities to enable direct importation of vehicles for the thriving automobile industry in Edo State, among other commercial activities that would spring from the port operations.

Ogbeifun, chairman of Benin Port project, expressed appreciation to members of the evaluation team for their dedication, professionalism and transparency exhibited throughout the exercise, and looked forward to further cooperation in the continuation of the concession award process.

The immediate past minister of transportation had earlier set up the Project Steering Committee (PSC) and Project Delivery Team (PDT) to ensure the realisation of the Benin Port Project under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, as already approved by the Federal Government through the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).