Mercury Maritime Concession Company (MMCC) Limited, promoter of the proposed $2.9 billion Escravos Seaport Industrial Complex (ESIC – 1) in Delta State, said it has secured a provisional approval from the Federal Government to commence the port project.
The provisional approval was given to the promoter through the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT).
Andrew Okoja, chairman of MMCC, who disclosed this at the recent stakeholders’ forum held in Lagos, said the company is also perfecting plans to deposit the sum of $1 billion to the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Transportation as a show of commitment and capacity to deliver the port project.
“The Federal Government requested us to deposit $1 billion, which takes through certain protocols before one can bring out such money. The money would serve as capacity to fund the port project and not that we are going to give the Federal Government that money,” he explained.
He said the port project, which will include a deep seaport, free trade zone, crude oil refinery and gas complex, would run on a ‘Build, Own, Operate and Transfer’ (BOOT) model and would be on a lease for about 50 years.
According to Okoja, all the $2.9 billion funding for the port project is expected to come from foreign investors, and the port, upon completion, would help to decongest Lagos ports, and attract about $50 billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Nigeria.
Other component of the project are industrial layouts, an independent power plant (IPP), a conservation park, an international airport, prime infrastructure, new towns and cities.
Okoja further said that the project is expected to create between 30,000 to 40,000 jobs upon completion.
“We went into this project because we have the capacity, experience and connections; we decided to deploy them to solve the maritime problem of the country. The project is maritime-driven and is cited on approximately 31 hectares of land in Escravos, Delta State,” said Okoja.
On his part, Philippe Droesbeke, manager, Port Projects, Port of Antwerp International and technical partner on the Escravos deep seaport project, said his company will ensure the feasibility study of the project is well carried out.
“We are happy to put in our experience to the development of the project,” he said.
Charles Asenime, a transport consultant and professor, said the proposed $2.9 billion Escravos seaport will boost economic development of the country.
According to him, the benefits of the seaport would include boosting employment opportunities, giving Delta State a direct multimodal transport accessibility to 70 percent of Nigeria’s land mass, four geo-political zones and Abuja, and littoral nations of the world.
He listed other benefits to include transformation of the coastal/foreshore line between Benin River into prime lands for seafront property development, and support for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) operations, among others.