Four months after commissioning the project, the Federal Government, through the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), is to begin the process of concessioning the Onitsha River Port to a private individual in the next two weeks.
The N2.7billion Inland River Port in Oguta, Imo State will also be completed by March 2014.
The project, which was awarded to Scott Amede Engineering and Power Supply Ltd in partnership with Zhunhai Minghong Group Company Ltd in 2009, was originally scheduled for completion in March this year.
It was gathered at the weekend that, of the N2.7 billion value of the contract, the sum of N1.8bilion had been paid to the contractor.
Speaking when the National Good Governance Tour Team visited the port Complex in Onitsha, General Manager of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Mr. Mike Dike, said contract for the rehabilitation of the port and supply/installation of Cargo handling equipment was awarded to Inter-Bau Construction Ltd in 2009 at the cost of N4.7billion, adding that the project was completed in March 2012 and commissioned by the President in September.
He observed that the President gave a directive that the port be concessioned. According to him, the concessioning process is in line with a “business study” that was sponsored by the World Bank. He noted that the satisfactory study was completed and submitted last month, saying that advertisement for the concessioning process would be due in two weeks time.
In his response, Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, said the first attempt to open up the nation’s waterways started in 1953 but was implemented under the late President Umar Yar’adua in 2009 with the dredging of the Lower Niger, which has been completed.
The Minister noted that government has awarded the contract for consultancy services for the dredging of River Benue and is awaiting the report.