“It is very disappointing for anybody to feel I can abandon a Natural Harbour for a Dugout Port. No Government all over the world will embark on a Dougout Port. Which investor will bring his money to build a Dugout Port?”
The above were the words of the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel during a well attended meeting with some leaders of Oron Nation in his office on Friday, October 1, 2021 to douse the tension generated in the State by the controversy surrounding the relocation of Ibaka Deep Sea Port to a new location to be built as a Dugout Port.
The Governor had on the 24th of September in a media chat to celebrate the 34th anniversary of Akwa Ibom State accused Oron People of being responsible for his inability to build the Ibaka (Ibom) Deep Sea Port. He told Akwa Ibom People that Oron People had chased away all the investors he struggled to secure through their Petitions.
But Engr Nkpubre, the Chairman of Oron Nation Technical Committee on Ibaka Deep Sea Port, an advisory committee set up by Oron Nation, sharply disagreed with the State Governor.
According to the revered Engineer, “No investor would want to waste his hard earned money or borrowed funds to go and dig out a dry land equivalent to about 150 football (soccer) fields to create an artificial ocean for a Deep Sea Port in Ibeno LGA when a natural harbour with undredged draft of 11meters is close by at Ibaka only 10km away.
“That is why the Chinese who first expressed interest in the Deep Sea Port withdrew. That is why the French (Bollore) who emerged as preferred investor withheld investment. That is possibly why the Federal Government withdrew both equity and investment guarantee.”
Nkpubre further asked the People of Akwa Ibom State to hold their Governor, not Oron People responsible for denying the State the opportunity to host the 1st and biggest Deep Sea Port in Nigeria.
The controversy had thrown the State into frenzy with media agents unleashed on Engr Nkpubre and calling for his arrest for inciting Oron People against the Governor.
The recent condemnation of the Dugout Port by the Governor was in the presence of the SSG, who in Unyenge last week distributed a Map showing a Dugout Port.
It was in the presence of the Commission for Economic Development and Ibom Deep Sea Port, Mr Akan Okon, who when queried about how the sand from the Dugout Port was going to be disposed of, told Oron People it would be used to sandfill the marshy areas of Mbo LGA.
It would be recalled that Oron Nation had since April 2021 sent a Petition to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State to express their concerns about the planned relocation of Ibaka Deep Sea Port from the preferred location. Apart from the change in location, the major issue raised was the Dugout Port.
The Governor did not address the concern of Oron Nation, a situation which necessitated Oron Nation to draw the attention of the proposed Core Investor.
It is regrettable that the State had to be thrown into confusion with loyalists of government calling for the head of Engr Nkpubre, before the governor condemned and dismissed the idea of a Dugout Port.
Available records show that the Government of Akwa Ibom State obtained approval for the Final Outline Business Case (OBC) for Ibom Deep Sea Port dated 26th May 2014 which relocated the Deep Sea Port from a location near Ibaka in Ibaka Bay in Mbo LGA to a location tagged Seaside in Ibeno LGA.
The content of the approved OBC clearly shows that the proposed Deep Sea Port at Seaside is based on the concept of a Dugout Port.
The layout design of the Dugout Port with Dugout Basin of 2.6km Long, 500m Wide and 16.5m Deep stretching from the Coast into dry land, can be found on Pages PD 21 and A 25 of the approved OBC.
Reacting to the recent development, the president of one of the youth groups in Òrò Nation, Oron Youth Movement, Comrade Victor Mkpofor noted that Engr Nkpubre has now been vindicated by no less a person, but by the state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel.
Comrade Mkpofor who thanked the State Chief Executive for condemning and dismissing the ‘possibility’ of a Dugout Port, asked of what would become of the approved OBC which is based on a Dugout Port, and submitted that it has become a nullity.
“We are hereby appealing to our dear Governor, not to continue on this jolly ride to nowhere.
“While Governor Udom Emmanuel has the fine option of discarding the approved 2014 OBC which had the concept of a Dugout Port, he should adopt the 2013 OBC for which the preferred location and Harbour resided at Ibaka Bay”, Mkpofor said.