…BOOT concession to last 99 years

By Steve Agbota

Hopes of deepening the blue economy project of the federal government brightened at the weekend with a Chinese firm, EDIB International Limited of Hong Kong, expressing its willingness to pool $27.29 billion to develop the  Escravos Seaport Industrial Complex (ESIC) project.

The project, located in Escravos (Gbaramatu Island/Omadino) Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, is a development project to be implemented through a Joint Venture Partnership (JVP) with a Nigerian firm, Mercury Maritime Concession Company Limited (MMCC).

Kwame Springer, Chairman of EDIB International Ltd through their consultancy Blue Dot Wealth Limited headed by Mr Alexander Takpi-Young is seeking government’s security over its $27.29 billion funding of the ESIC project.

EDIB International Limited is requesting that the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and the Local Government provide written confirmation of the Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in the country to provide security and confirmation of the project to be financed by EDIB International Ltd.

The security sought after is as a result of the 50 years concession deal to Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) the ESIC deep seaport project. On the part of the Federal Government of Nigeria, they will ensure that the financier’s $27.29 billion investment is returned with profit. The concession deal term is to be increased to 99 years for the ESIC project to secure funding from EDIB International Ltd.

It is instructive to note that under the ESIC project deal, the ownership of ESIC deep seaport sub–project of ESIC will revert to FGN at the expiration of the ninety-nine (99) years concession period to be granted to MMCC.

The Chairman of Mercury Maritime Concession Company Limited (MMCC),  Rear Admiral Andrew Okoja (rtd), told the media that the decision by EDIB International to finance ESIC project was consequent upon the November 2020 provisional approval granted by the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMT) to MMCC to develop the ESIC project and the reviewed FMT confirmation letter of August 2023 by the ministry.

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“The decision was also consequent upon the May 2022 Delta State Government (DTSG) approval to lease 31,000 hectares of land located at Escravos to MMCC to host the entire ESIC project.

ESIC project commenced in 2019 and aims to develop 31,000 hectares of project land in Delta State into a Deep Seaport, Crude oil refinery, Gas Complex, Free Trade Zone/Industrial Park, Independent Power Plant (IPP), Airport, Nature Conservation Park, etc.

“It is a development that promises to massively open up the seven (7) beneficiary states in Nigeria to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the areas of trade, commerce and industry. ESIC will transform the economies of these States from a rural-driven economy with sprinklings of urban development to a metropolis driven economy of international dimension.

“ESIC Deep Seaport which is the backbone of ESIC project will serve as a gateway seaport with multi – modal transportation connectivity to hinterland destinations in Nigeria and beyond by marine, rail and road means of transportation: thus providing cargo flow multiplier to ESIC deep seaport to effectively serve more than seven states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.”

Okoja stated further that as a gateway deep seaport, the ESIC deep seaport will be able to service all Inland ports along the River Niger when the River Niger Canal project in partnership with Suez Canal Authority (SCA) of Egypt comes on stream.

“This canal/International marine highway project is a 600 kilometres ESIC seaport to Baro in Niger State; a project which will open – up the canal to a depth of 10 meters to enable it to take vessels up to 100,000 metric ton,” he said.

He added that the seven direct ESIC project beneficiary states plus Abuja (namely: Delta, Edo, Bayelsa, Imo, Anambra, Kogi and Niger States) by their contiguous location in and along the road, rail and marine transportation corridor of ESIC project will be admitted as equity partners of ESIC project and thus have the right of use of ESIC project capacity.

It is instructive to note that, the Chairman of MMCC, Admiral Andrew Okoja (rtd) was on December 13, 2022 granted an Award for Excellence in Commerce and Infrastructure by the Delta State Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (DACCIMA) in an investiture ceremony that took place in Asaba Delta State: an event graced by the Executive Governor of Delta State represented by the Secretary to Government.

The award is in recognition of the work of the Admiral in developing the concept of ESIC project and driving the process up to the stage of obtaining FGN and DTSG project approvals. The financing expression of interest to finance ESIC project is a further icing of the December 2022 award to the Admiral.