• Saturday, April 20, 2024
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The problem with Benin Industrial Park 2024

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The Benin Enterprise Park, a project envisioned in phases, has faced hurdles from the outset. Governor Obaseki’s primary challenge has stemmed from disagreements with nearby communities. Land encroachment and legal battles with these communities have significantly slowed down development. Resolving these disputes will be crucial for the park’s progress.

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The Edo State Government has on several occasions warned trespassers encroaching on the land marked out for the Benin Industrial Park to desist immediately from any development work on the land as activities are gearing up for the commencement of work on the park.

The warning, contained in a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie, Esq., in Benin City, Edo State, noted that relevant Geographic Information System (GIS) data have been gathered to ensure that the perimeter of the land is properly delineated.

The statement said, “Individuals and groups encroaching on the land acquired by the State Government for the development of the Benin Industrial Park are warned to desist forthwith.” It added, “The state government had on September 28, 2017, put out a notice informing the public of the acquisition of the property, after which it ascertained the level of development on the land, to guard against activities of land grabbers and other miscreants.

“To establish the level of development on the land at the time, the state government had earlier carried out an aerial survey of the property through the Geographic Information System (GIS) Agency. The survey revealed little development on the land.” He said the government has observed that some people are illegally moving into the land to develop private properties, warning that such people will be considered criminals and the full wrath of the law will be unleashed on them.

He cautioned individuals with illegal structures on the land to stop work immediately, noting, “All those who have erected illegal structures on the property after the acquisition of the land will not be compensated, as the Development Control Unit in the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development has been directed to commence markings on the land. He reiterated that “the area acquired for the Benin Industrial Park has been mapped, and anyone developing properties on any part of the land does so at his or her own risk.”

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Benin Industrial Park covers a total area of almost 1,000 hectares. The site, located about 20 kilometres south of Benin City in Edo State, is established as a free trade zone, including both industrial and commercial areas, as well as an attached residential area inclusive of local recreation areas. The park will provide jobs for up to 35,000 people and housing for up to 20,000 residents. Its own 575 MW multi-stage gas turbine power plant will ensure a self-sufficient power supply for the entire area.

The Edo State Government has developed a convincing and well-conceived, construction-phase-oriented development concept for the entire site. In addition to traffic planning, the concept also includes the supply of drinking water, electricity, and gas, as well as rainwater drainage, wastewater disposal, and empty conduit systems for data and communications networks. The Edo State Government has made provision for the commercial and industrial usage of a 93-hectare sub-area.

The Benin Enterprise Park Limited (BEPL), initially known as the Benin Industrial Park (BIP), was initiated by Governor Godwin Obaseki to improve commerce, increase trading, and create a seamless business environment in Edo State. The project was guided by the MEGA (Make Edo Great Again) Agenda, which includes economic reform and infrastructural development pillars. The first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was with Mahindra Engineering Group, which chose the park’s location, which is equidistant from all over the state, including Delta State, and the readily available raw materials to support the 14 sectors identified in the Master Plan.

The criteria for choosing those 14 sectors have to do with the amount of gross domestic product (GDP) potential for the state, the number of jobs that they will create for the state, and also the corporate social responsibility (CSR) for that area of the state that will benefit the local communities.

The location of Benin Enterprise Park is in the Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of the State, about a 10-minute drive from the by-pass. It is 997.71 hectares of land, and it has been decided to develop it modularly.

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The initial thought process was to do a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement. We explored that possibility, and then we had the interest rate issues. As a foreign direct investor, when you go into any economy, any country, or anywhere you want to invest your money, there must be an exit strategy. Now, it is a problem if you don’t know how you are going to repatriate your investment and profits at the end, or if you are not sure how that is going to happen. You now have a situation where you are reluctant to come in.

 

Inwalomhe Donald writes via [email protected]