As work progresses on the Benin River Port project, the Edo State Government, at the weekend, met with over 15 host communities and other stakeholders, to strengthen ties and build stronger relationships ahead of the completion of the project.
Chairman of the Benin River Port Project, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, who spoke at an engagement session with stakeholders in Benin City, said the port is a legacy project of the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration, designed to key into the federal government’s initiative of diversifying the economy away from oil, into agriculture and agro-allied business.
Ogbeifun, who disclosed that the governor has approved the engagement of CPCS Transaction, a consortium of specialist firms from Canada, Belgium and Nigeria, for the provision of Transaction Advisory Services on the project, said the project is to be developed through Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
According to him, “this legacy project is of historical and economic significance to the focal communities, the people of Edo State, and Nigeria at large.
“Apart from the generation of massive employment opportunities during the construction and operational phases, it is expected that this port would also position Nigeria to benefit from facilities of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), under which investment in agriculture is a major consideration.”
He noted that the need for the development of a port in Edo State dates back to the pre-colonial era when the Portuguese accessed the Benin Kingdom through Benin River and Osse River for trade purposes, which culminated in the unfortunate military expedition of the British to Benin City, through same route in 1897.
On his part, the Project Director, Dr. Joe Aigboduwa noted, “Several governments in Edo State have made attempts and failed, but the present administration, led by Governor Godwin Obaseki, stepped in to ensure the project is realized.
“We are focusing on three components for the port, which include the access road to the port, the port project itself and the channels leading to the port.”
“At only about 32km from the Atlantic Ocean, the Benin City River Port is strategically positioned to be the second nearest Port to the coastline in Nigeria, next only to that of Lagos,” he added.
He said the site chosen for the establishment of the port will benefit host communities, adding, “this will avoid relocating any community.”