Cross River State is taking its decision to dabble into aircraft and shipping line businesses further, as the state has approved the procurement of aircraft and merchant/ cargo vessels for the take-off of its official carrier, Cally Air and shipping line.
The state government is seeking to engage a Transaction Advisor for the business, and is calling for applications for procurement of aircraft and merchant/ cargo vessels for the Shipping Line, as well as fishing trawlers for commercial fishing.
While the costs of all this is undisclosed by the state, the 260 km superhighway and deep seaport at Bakassi that have ran into controversy are said to cost N700 billion.
It is also yet unknown if the state was still committed to the superhighway and seaport, given the seeming urgency in engaging into airline and shipping business.
In 2008, the state lost all its oil deposits when Nigeria formally handed over Bakassi, an oil-rich Peninsula, to Cameroon Republic, its eastern neighbour, following a 2002 judgement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, Switzerland.
Since then, the state has been searching for an alternative revenue source to augment its dwindling incomes. The state is perhaps, engaging into the airline and shipping business to complement its effervescent tourism industry, topped with the annual December carnival.
Governor Ben Ayade is said have approved the procurement of an aircraft as the state’s official carrier, Cally Air including purchase of merchant/ cargo vessels and trawlers for its shipping line, according to the Finance ministry which said the governor “has approved the procurement of an aircraft and merchant/ cargo vessels and fishing trawlers for the state’s airline and shipping line, with a view to opening international maritime trade.”
The ministry further added that it (Cross River Ministry of Finance) “hereby calls for qualified consultant(s) to act as Transaction Adviser throughout the process of the procurement of the merchant/ cargo vessels and fishing trawlers for Cross River Shipping Lines.”
The statement called for suitable and qualified firm(s) and interested persons to submit their applications on or before 22 February 2017, asking that they “would be required to provide necessary technical and financial advice throughout the process of the procurement,” as well as “have experience in the procurement of a ship, as well as have experience in the consummation of international business deals.”
The firm(s) must also show evidence of competence in the management, maintenance and operation of a ship, among other technical requirements.”
Cross River would be following Imo State, which recently said it has acquired five aircraft for its Imo Air airline business. The state is partnering with Dana Airlines to manage the business for 10 years.
Some observers however, are wondering on the sustainability of the states’ airline business at a time of recession when up to 27 states of the federation are unable to pay salaries and pensions.