Emirates and Sung, a United Kingdom-based investment firm, has been named as financiers of the proposed Aba Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Avor Ntigha in Isiala Ngwa Local Government Area of Abia State.
Consequently, the project now has a technical partner and financier, an arrangement that is lacking in the other five proposed ICDs in the country.
Also, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Nigeria’s ports economic regulator, has expressed satisfaction over arrangements put in place by Eastgate Terminal Limited, concessionaire to the Aba ICD and the Abia State government, to realise the project.
Bwos John Choji, assistant director, operations, NSC, who represented Hassan Bello, executive secretary and chief operating officer of the Council, at a stakeholders’ meeting held recently at the office of the Secretary to the Abia State government, observed that Eastgate was following due diligence and reiterated the Council’s support to the firm in ensuring that the project was realised soonest.
“We are very pleased with the arrangement that Eastgate has made so far, because in all the proposed five ICDs in the country, this one has the best arrangement so far, it has a technical partner and financier; others do not have this arrangement at all. So, it will be our pride to commission this project as either the second of third ICD in this country,” he stated.
Dan Nwankwo, chairman, Implementation Committee, representing the State Government, explained that the dry port was a priority project for this State and expressed the commitment of the Government and people of the State to ensure its realisation.
He explained further that the Government and people of Abia State look forward to its full implementation to aid commerce in the State and the entire South-East region.
According to Nwankwo, so many people in this part of the country import various goods and it is generally known that more than 50 percent of goods coming in from Apapa, Tincan Island and Onne ports, end up in the South-East region.
“So, you will appreciate the importance of this project to our people, State and region,” he said.
He assured the financiers that their funds would be well placed, looked after and repaid in due course. And over and above that, “I do imagine that you can appreciate the importance of what you are trying to do, to invest in a developing economy is more than business.
“It is also a social responsibility, so I will stand here without any fear of contradiction to encourage you to do it. And we will all be here to ensure that your company will succeed, Eastgate will succeed and collective successes will be not only our own success, but will also be our joy, “he stated.
Bill Nkemdirim, chairman/chief executive officer, Eastgate Terminal Limited, explained that the meeting was organised primarily to enable Emirates and Sung, financiers to the project to meet all stakeholders, as well as have a feel of the people and the site of the project.
“Some of you who were here when we signed the construction agreement and questions on how soon will construction start came up and somebody said two months and another person said 3 months. We still mean it, but BRJ and Associates is a construction company and they need money to do the work and Emirates and Sung has the money.
“They need to come and see for themselves if Eastgate is real, have a feel of the people, promoters and the government and to be convinced about the seriousness of all, before they can commit their fund to the project.
“They equally want to look around and be sure that there are businesses that would generate the money that they want to give to BRJ and basically that is what is called “due diligence” and that’s what they have come to do.
“They have been with us in Lagos, where we reside, we have equally been to Shippers Council, but Abia State owns the project, so they are here to have a feel of the Government and the people and to ask questions that possibly might need answers from anybody,” Nkemdirim stated.
Recall that Eastgate Terminal Limited, the project concessionaire, and BRJ and Associates of the United States of America, its development partner, recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), signalling the readiness of the parties to commence work on the project.
Consequently, BRJ, a construction and project management firm, based in Pasadena, California, United States of America, is to construct the dry port and manage it on behalf of Eastgate Terminal Limited.
Bonnie R. Jones, president/chief operating officer, BRJ and Associates, who led two other members of the firm on the trip expressed happiness over the opportunity offered them to be part of the project.
In his words, “We are happy to be part of this project. We know how important it is to this community and the nation, because of its economic benefits. We are so serious to be part of this and it is something that we look forward to accomplishing with our partners and we hope that we can start immediately.
Accompanying Jones on the trip were Mark Edwards, executive vice president, and Anyaduba Nebolisa, general manager, Africa, BRJ.