The Edo State Government, will on Monday, August 8, 2022, host regulators and other stakeholders to a public hearing on the draft Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Report for the Benin City River Port (BRP) Project. In a statement, BRP Chairman, Greg Ogbeifun, said the public hearing will take place at the John Odigie Oyegun Training Centre in Benin City. The statement reads “The Executive Governor of Edo State, His Excellency Mr. Godwin Obaseki has continued to record sustained progress in his renewed drive to develop the Benin City River Port (BRP). Apart from the draft Outline Business Case (OBC) which has already been completed and submitted to regulatory authorities, the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) has also been completed, including the Assets Inventory Valuation exercise.
“In this regard, the Honourable Minister of Environment has approved the Public Hearing on the draft ESIA Report for the BRP Project. This is coming after the initial approval for the Public Display of the ESIA Report, notification of which was published in The Vanguard and The Nigerian Observer newspapers on 15th June 2022. The display had been for the statutory period of 21 working days, which lasted from 17th June 2022 till 15th July 2022, and was variously at the Local Government Councils, and at the State and Federal Ministries of Environment. There were also announcements on Radio Nigeria Station for the first and last five (5) days of the display exercise.
“For the Public Hearing, the Honourable Minister had constituted a Review Panel, comprising of experts, as well as relevant Regulators from the Local Government Council, and the Ministries of Environment. Among the key stakeholders invited to participate in the event, holding at the John Odigie Oyegun Training Centre in Benin City on Monday 8″ August 2022, were the Host Communities, Consultants, and other interested parties.” Ogbeifun continued, “BRP is a legacy project which is of historical and economic significance to the local communities, the people of Edo State, and Nigeria at large, and is aimed at contributing to the development of both the maritime and agricultural sectors, and creating massive employment opportunities in lifting the Nigerian economy.
“The project site is located at the confluence of Osse River and Benin River, making it the closest port to the sea after the ports of Lagos, at only 32km from the coastline. This proximity is a major attraction to shippers, as it reduces the sailing time of ships into the hinterland, along with the associated security risks. As part of the project, a double-lane dual carriage way Access Road is planned to be constructed to the Port through Ekewan Road and Gelegele, while a Railway link is being proposed from Agbor to the Port in future, to facilitate movement of goods from all over the country. “The site has a vast expanse of available land of which over 700ha has since been surveyed and designated for the project by Edo State Government, including Topographic Survey of the Access Road, and Bathymetric Survey of the sailing Channel along Benin River, through the estuary and into the Atlantic Ocean.
“The project site was carefully selected in such a way to avoid having to relocate any community, and the host communities have been very supportive, and continue to show encouragement for the project. This had started with a very cordial and frank stakeholders meeting, which was followed with the recent award of fully funded scholarships to the first batch of indigenous students to study Maritime courses in universities overseas, who are expected to eventually return to join the workforce at BRP.”
He further noted that “the Draft Outline Business Case (OBC) for the BRP Project had been prepared by the appointed Transaction Advisers, CPCS Transcom, Canada, after an extensive research and study of the cargo and traffic throughput potentials, and the viability of the proposed port, amongst other considerations. Some potential Investors have also been identified for financing of the proposed Public-Private-Partnership contract that would be secured under custody of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC). These activities will continue until the development of a Full Business Case (FBC), and attainment of a Financial Close, leading to commencement of actual construction works.
“The Benin City River Port (BRP) project is deliberately designed to address the deficiencies observed in all the other existing Ports in Nigeria, by making provisions for a total Port Community that encompasses integration of all necessary services, including adequate land area for Trailer Park, Agro-Industrial Park, General Industrial Park, Housing Areas, ail in addition to the Port Terminal Complex itself. The Agro-based focus of the BRP is to key into the Federal Government’s drive of diversifying the Nigerian economy from Oil & Gas into Agriculture.
“It would encourage a positive revolution in mechanized agriculture, and expand the export potentials in the sector, given the availability of a dedicated Port in Benin City, which is the hub of transportation routes from the northern, eastern, and southern parts of Nigeria to Lagos.
“Additionally, the strategic location and proximity of the BRP as the nearest Port east of the Lekki Deep Sea Port and the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Complex will serve as the most viable gateway port for transshipments and products evacuation for these facilities, BRP has recently interacted with these organisations, and they have both expressed eagerness as they look forward to the development of the Port.
“The BRP Project Management is currently engaged in positive interactions with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), the Federal Ministry of Transportation, and the infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) in respect of the project.”
He added, “Apart from the generation of massive employment opportunities during the construction and operational phases, it is expected that the Benin City River Port would also position Nigeria to benefit from activities of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), under which investment in Agriculture is a major consideration.”