The Ondo Deep Seaport being proposed to be sited at Araromi in Ilaje local government area of Ondo state, is a done deal.
Conceptualised last year, the deep seaport project has so far received the blessings of the Federal government through the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) which has bought into the project.
The infectious enthusiasm of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state has in no small measure helped to drive the project.
Akeredolu was so determined to bring the project to fruition that he was ready to sacrifice other projects in the state to ensure the success of the seaport project.
We are as excited over this Ondo port project as Akeredolu due to its unquantifiable benefits not only to the people of the state but the entire country in general.
Giving the level of preparation that has gone into the project as well as the burning desire of government of Ondo state, we hope the port of Ondo will become a reality sooner than expected.
Due to the location of the proposed port which is contiguous to South East, South South and South West coupled with its natural attribute of deep draft, the port of Ondo will be an attractive alternative to the Lagos ports that are already encumbered with infrastructural deficiencies.
This is the more reason why we want to remind all the parties to the conceptualisation and actualisation of Ondo Deep Seaport not to build another Apapa port.
The Apapa port has become a monster to the operators and residents of the port city of Apapa and its environs.
The infrastructural decay of the premier port in Nigeria has ironically turned it into more of a burden than economic gains that has destroyed the social life of the residents of the port city.
Due to the absence of good port access roads and the failure to deploy multi modal transportation system for the evacuation of cargoes, the resultant malignant traffic gridlock that has so far defiled years of government efforts has made Apapa port a pain for the operators and residents of the ports city as well as a national embarrassment.
It could be regarded as almost inconceivable for the promoters of such modern deep seaport as the proposed Ondo port not to factor in good network of road, standard gauge rail line and other infrastructural facilities that will make evacuation of cargo a seamless exercise.
With the pedigree of the project’s consortium which comprises of a Spanish firm of Ocean Infrastructure Management(OIM), its Nigerian counterpart, Franchise and Business Solution Limited(FBS) supported by the project consultant, Amiable Consultancy and Logistics Limited owned by former Executive Director of Marine and Operations of the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA), Aina Egharevba, one could safely conclude that Ondo port will have critical infrastructural facilities that will set it far above the Apapa port nightmare.
But what we learnt of Lekki Deep Seaport, another mega modern seaport that is nearing completion, made us to think that despite this array of technical experts who superintendent over the conceptualisation and implementation of the project, there is likelihood of building another Apapa monster in Ondo state adequate care is not taken.
From the project design and implementation, Lekki Deep Seaport lacks rail connectivity.
No conscious efforts are made to build or expand the existing roads in the axis which are already congested.
With another mega Dangote refinery that will soon be completed in the same area, Lekki seaport, for which we have already raised alarm in our previous editorial, is another Apapa port waiting to happen.
This is why we are appealing to the promoters of the proposed port of Ondo not to repeat the same mistakes that have made Apapa port a national embarrassment.
It is one thing to conceptualise a modern deep seaport that has all the trappings of sophisticated infrastructure, but it is another thing to ensure that cargo clearing and delivery processes are done seamlessly.
Conversely, it is one thing to conceptualise a port that comprises all the necessary road and other inter modal means of transportation of cargoes out of the ports, it is another ball game to actualise the real concept.
So, we call on the Ondo state government, the NPA and the technical partners of Ondo Deep Seaport project to ensure that beyond the beautiful concept, the port in actualisation is linked with good network of roads, standard gauge rail line and ample room for future expansion in response to the growth of the port.
Anything short of this will later on, as the case of Apapa port, wipe out the gains and benefits that the host community, Ondo state and Nigeria stand to reap from this laudable project.
For the people of Araromi in Ilaje local government area of of Ondo state to savour the dividends of hosting the project, the Apapa nightmare should not be replicated and foist on them.
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