Governor of Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake Dickson led a high-powered Bayelsa delegation to visit the Minister of Transportation, Honourable Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi to seek collaboration on Agge Deep Seaport , International Cargo Airport and Coastal Railway in the state.
Speaking during the courtesy call, the governor urged leaders and government functionaries to always work for the good of the country, stressing that once elections are over, political actors must close ranks irrespective of party affiliations to work for the security and the development of the country.
While emphasising that the Agge Deep Seaport has economic viability, Dickson noted that the seaport and the airport will open up the state and make Bayelsa play active role in the Gulf of Guinea since the state is on the tip of the Atlantic Ocean.
The governor who had made passionate appeal for the technical assistance of the Transportation Ministry in the actualisation of the seaport and airport projects, said: “I am here to share with you the initiatives of the government of Bayelsa State in terms of transportation infrastructure, and I commend the Federal Government and your ministry for what they are doing in terms of activating core programmes and initiatives on railways.
“The railways that you are constructing should get to many places in Bayelsa State as soon as possible. Some states are hopeful to also be part of the wonderful railway connectivity project of the federal government.
The government has been making serious investments in this sector and we are currently building a 3.5-kilometre runway airport in Bayelsa and I’m here to solicit the co-operation, partnership and collaboration of this ministry, all other federal agencies and related ministries in terms of how the airport can be put to very effective and beneficial use.
“Our intentions in investing in that infrastructure is not just for leisure, our expectation is for the airport to be a free zone on its own. So, we need technical support and encouragement. So, I invite the collaboration of technical knowledge of your technical people to move this project forward”.
The governor further appealed to the minister for his support and approval on his efforts to open up a state that has been hitherto locked up to show support on the seaport project to open up their state.
“On the basis of the reports we have seen, we believe that a good investment case can be made for big seaport.
We have concluded our technical studies and before we make our formal application to set in process the necessary processes and mechanisms I thought to formally come here to seek your support for actualising the big seaport project,” the governor said.
The Minister in his response, commended the governor for embarking on such projects regardless of the difficult terrain of the state, noting: “Our railway project from Lagos to Calabar will pass through Otuoke and once we commence construction, we will ensure railway lines pass through the state capitals. It is very difficult to do railway in riverine areas in Nigeria.
“I had told the former president that there is need to invest in the reclamation of land in Bayelsa because the state is surrounded by water. We have more rivers and creeks. Everywhere in Bayelsa is water and I praise you a lot for being able to carry out development projects because you have to first reclaim land before carrying out the projects.
“I am not known for praises but I praise you for fighting those challenges that have to do with the development in the riverine areas. I want to reassure you that these your three demands will be looked into. We will do everything possible to fast-track the approvals for the seaports for you to go and look for investors.
“We did it for the Cross River State governor and I can tell you that there is no party bias in infrastructure development. We won’t benefit anything as a party if we stop the development to Bayelsa,” he said.
Speaking further, the minister said: “I thank you for coming to discuss issues concerning seaport and airport. What I can guarantee you in line with the resolution of the federal government to encourage infrastructure development is that my ministry will give all necessary approvals required for the project.
“Even the ones that don’t involve my ministry, we will do everything possible to facilitate them. Our job is to ensure that we provide all the necessary mechanisms for the investment…”
“The cost of development in Bayelsa triples many states in the federation. As a former governor, I tell people that what it takes to do a road project in Rivers State can construct 10 roads in other states.
“I remember the road I did from Airforce Base to Ikwerre Road which is about 10 kilometres cost us about N10 billion. That is N1 billion per kilometre. The peculiar nature of the terrain will increase the cost. I, therefore, like everybody to know what the governors that operate in that area pass through. They must do quality work or it will collapse under one year.
“At the end of the day they will ask us what is the number of seaports we have. Let me reassure you that we will do whatever we have to do in conformity with the manner of presidential ease of doing business,” he said.
The Deep Seaport is founded on a Public Private Partnership module and the governor said his government had reached out to investors who have shown keen interest in the project.