IBAKA DEEP SEAPORT: THE QUESTIONABLE CONSULTANCY OF FELAK CONCEPT LTD

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By Asuquo Anwana

The Oron people have severally contested the obvious relocation of Ibaka Deep Seaport from its preferred location. The reason has been hinged on the double standards of the consulting firm, FELAK CONCEPT LTD. It is shocking how a reputable engineering consulting firm could produce a report of a diligent study for the construction of a project like a Deep Seaport, only to vary same in 13 months. As a stakeholder in Òrò, I am constrained by negative developments degenarating therefrom to once again lay bare this details. As a former two term National President of Oron Development Union Inc. USA, it makes no sense to me, keeping quiet in times like this.

Putting it mildly, it is easy to spot the truth by the way it feels. In 2013, Felak Concept Limited of 3B Rudlf Close, off Katsina Ala Street, Maitama, Abuja issued a Due Diligence Report for Ibaka Deep Sea Port with details as follows: Document Title: “Initial Due Diligence for Ibaka Deep Sea Port and Free Trade Zone”; Document Status: “Final”; Company: “Felak Concept Limited and Maritime & AMP; Transport Business Solutions B.V.-MTBS; Date: “January 2013”; Project Name: “Ibaka Deep Sea Port and Free Trade Zone”; Client: “Federal Ministry of Transport.” See attached Picture No1 for details.

Picture No 1. showing Felak’s Technical Report of January 2013

In the Due Diligence Report, which is the Report of Studies carried out under the auspices of the Project Delivery Team set up by the Ministerial Steering Committee to drive the Ibaka Deep Sea Project, the following parameters were adopted to select the most suitable site for the Deep Sea Port. Thus: “Dredging Works”, “Breakwater Construction”, “Land Development”, “Hinterland Connections”, and “Expandability”.

These are globally recognised factors for location of Sea Ports. Logical procedure was used to assess selected locations with results as follows: the Preferred Site tagged “Okposo” near Tom Shot Island and Ibaka came 1st with a score of 2.5 points; Tom Shot Island came 2nd with a score of 2.2 points; West Point came 3rd with the score of 2.0 points; while Seaside (Ibeno) came 4th with the score of 1.8 points.

The Due Diligence Report also advised that since Okposo the Preferred Location is close to Tom Shot Island which also scored high, the two sites could be merged as a single site for high future expandability. In comparative cost projections for selected sites carried out during Due Diligence Studies, the Preferred Location returned the lowest cost.

Based on the “Final” Due Diligence Report, Felak Concept Limited issued the following documents: Project Name: “Ibaka Deep Sea Port and Free Trade Zone”; Document Title: “Final Outline Business Case. Final OBC Outline Report”; Document Status: “Final”; Company: “Felak Concept Limited and Maritime & AMP; Transport Business Solutions B.V.-MTBS”; Date: “24 April 2013”; Client: “Steering Committee on Ibaka Deep Seaport”. See Pictures No 2 for details.

Picture No 2. showing Felak’s Technical Report on Outline Business Case in April 2013

In this OBC dated 24th April, Costs Estimations, Financial Modelling, Land Acquisition, Environmental and Social Impact assessment, Architectural Model, and all other projections were based on the “Okposo” site as the preferred location for the Deep Sea Port. It should be noted that as at 2013, Ibaka Deep Sea Port and Free Trade Zone was a Federal Government Project while Ibom Industrial City (IIC) was a State Government Project.

In 2014, the same FELAK CONCEPT LIMITED again, issued the following documents: Project Name: “Ibom Deep Sea Port and Free Trade Zone”; Document Title: “Outline Business Case”; Document Status: “Final”; Company: “Felak Concept Limited and Maritime & AMP; Transport Business Solutions B.V.-MTBS”; Date: “26 May 2014″; Client: Steering Committee on Ibom Deep Sea Port”. See Picture No 3 for details.

Picture No 3. showing Felak’s fresh Technical Report on new Outline Business Case in May 2014

In this new OBC, the Consultants invoked very spurious, and ambiguous parameters for a fresh site selection without any reference to the Site Evaluation in the Due Diligence Report of January 2013 earlier produced and circulated by Felak Concept. These spurious criteria are as follows: “Site must be part of Ibom Industrial City”; “Location should comply with the requirement as established in the technical programme of requirements”; “Site must be close to Deep Sea Trade Route”; Site must provide ample space for Design Variation”; “Time to market should be minimised”; “Risk must be minimised”; “Investment cost must be minimised”; and “Social Impact must be minimised”.

The Consultants then went on to manipulate Plus Signs “+” and Minus Signs “-“ to conjure Seaside (Ibeno) which came 4th in its earlier assessment to now come 1st as the best location with Seven Plus Signs. Meanwhile, “Okposo” which came 1st as the  Preferred Location became rejected with Two Minus Signs.

When one considers that Environmental and Social Impact assessment had already been approved for the Deep Sea Port at the Preferred Location at “Okposo” and that the Preferred Location had the lowest cost estimates in comparative cost assessment during Due Diligence Studies, then the dubiousness of this second  assessment is crystal clear.

The Due Diligence Studies and Report of January 2013 was commissioned by the Federal Government to ensure Ibaka Deep Sea Port was developed based on well founded principles and information and the Final OBC of April 2013 was based on this Due Diligence Report. It is expected that the Federal Government who was the Client  paid Felak Concept adequately for the Due Diligence Studies/Report.We are not aware of any other Due Diligence Studies/Report other than that of January 2013. We are therefore at a loss, where and how  Felak Concept came by its 2nd dubious assessment report in the OBC dated May 26th 2014.

No reputable Consultant will carry out a Study and issue a Report on a Subject with Recommendations and 13 months later issue another Report on the same subject, without making any reference to its earlier report, but with recommendations that totally contradicts its earlier recommendations This is unacceptable in any sane system.

What  any reputable Consultant could have done  was to issue a Revision of its 1st Location Assessment Report, if there was any reason to do so. Felak Concept Ltd did not do that. Their action has left very probable indication that they were possibly induced by Ethnic Politicians in Akwa Ibom State  to manufacture strange criteria for a fraudulent second location assessment to change the location of the Deep Sea Port to Ibeno.

By this action, Felak Concept Limited has made its credibility as a reputable Consultant in Nigeria questionable.  It is this type of action by some unconscionable Consultants who would recommend anything their political pay masters tell them to recommend that have contributed to the  high numbers of failed Government Projects in Nigeria. Felak Concept Limited owes a debt to its reputation and Akwa Ibom people and Government to come clean on the glaring duplicity which has informed its actions as cited above.

It is unbelievable that any Consultant would recommend the commencement of a Port Developments with a Dugout Port. Comonsense should have informed them that this makes no sense. After digging out your 1st Port, how do you expand in future? You keep digging? A dugout port should be the very last resort for Port expansion when there is no shoreline left in the initial Port location. We are therefore calling on the Government of Akwa Ibom State to ignore the 2nd fraudulent location assessment by Felak Concept Limited and their Dugout Port and return the Deep Sea Port to the Preferred Location at Okposo near Ibaka Bay which was produced by a technically sound 1st location assessment done during Due Diligence Studies.

If this is not done, the Deep Sea Port is sure to join the long list of Government Projects which have failed or performed badly because political considerations were given priority over technical and economic considerations in their establishments.

Asuquo Anwana is a New York-based former two time National President of Oron Development Union inc.; USA

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