Work is to resume on the 14-story hotel project at the Tropicana Entertainment Centre in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, initiated by the previous administration.
Commissioner for special duties, Okpolupm Etteh, said on in Uyo, the state capital that the state government has been shopping for investors for the project, adding that about four investors have indicated interest in the hotel project.
Etteh, who denied allegations that the project was stopped because it had a structural defect assured that in two or three months’ time, the government will have an an investor who will take over the completion of the hotel.
He stated that a suitable investor will be chosen after due diligence is completed, adding that the government was shopping for an investor that would be able to sustain the hotel once it kicks off.
“You have to be sure where you invest your money. Currently, we have three to four investors that are interested in that hotel. China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCEC) is one of them.
“You know the Nigerian climate, it is not easy for someone to bring his money and come and invest in a particular project. The person will also do due diligence to find out if the state government owing to a contractor, is the business viable?
“A lot of investors have been coming but the onus is on the government to choose the one who would be able to invest and sustain that particular business.
“In the next two or three months, we have an investor to the hotel. We are doing due diligence to choose an investor that we know will handle the project.
“The due diligence of that building was done by a reputable company in Nigeria called ETR and Partners Consulting Engineers, there is no defect in that building,” he stated.
The state governor, Udom Emmanuel had in one of his recent media interactive live sessions, described the project as a white elephant project which was not viable.
Until recently, when Governor Udom Emmanuel commissioned ‘market square”, to operate within the shopping mall complex, only the cinema was functioning.
The Tropicana Entertainment Centre complex where the hotel is situated houses the cinema galleria, shopping malls, a 5,000 capacity conference hall and theme park among others.
Construction work stopped in 2014 when the 8-year tenure of the initiator of the project, Governor Godswill Akpabio ended.
The project which was meant to explore the tourism sector and open Akwa Ibom to investors was awarded in 2008 to SilverBird, owned by Ben Bruce, at the sum of N33 billion, with a completion period of 18 months; but the amount expended so far on the project is within the range of N150 billion.
Shortly after its award, the location of the project was criticised by the former governor, Obong Victor Attah, an architect who designed the master plan of Uyo.
Attah queried the citing of the project without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), in view of the waste that would be generated from the project and its implications on both humans and environments.
Based on some noticeable errors made in the contract such as insufficient hectares of land to accommodate the project and the EIA to be carried out, the first contract was reviewed upwards to over N100 billion within three years.
This, according to the Government House source would be to take care of compensation to owners of the additional acquired land and other sub-heads.