From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Imo state government yesterday clarified that it was not building a sea port but partnering with the federal government for the dredging of the ORASHI RIVER to open it up to the Atlantic ocean.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Hon Declan Emelumba in a statement in Owerri, said the explanation has become necessary following various interpretation of the project by many interest groups.
According to him, Gov Hope Uzodimma never talked about sea port at Oguta or ORASHI, but harped on the economic benefits of dredging the river up to the Atlantic ocean. He added that the governor could not have talked of a seaport in Imo state when there is no sea in the state, adding that what the governor was emphasising was having access to the sea through the dredging of existing waterways.
Said he, after an inspection tour of the area, Uzodimma specifically told reporters that he went with the Navy to understand the terrain better and appreciate the beauty nature has bestowed to this state.
The governor further said”the enormous natural endowment in this area is yet to be tapped. Our first line of action will be to create access road that will enable security agents patrol the channel up to the sea; the access will help stimulate commercial activities and halt crude oil theft and vandalization of oil installations”
Emelumba regretted that the opposition and some biased maritime reporters had stoked the fire of controversy to take the shine off the huge vision behind the project.
The commissioner said this was not the first time that attempt was being made to dredge the ORASHI RIVER to join the Atlantic ocean.
He noted that even during the colonial time, ships were moving from the Atlantic ocean and Port Harcourt to osemotor, a river port in the bank of Oguta Lake in Oguta Local Government Area of the state.
He also debunked the insinuations by the PDP that the federal government cannot collaborate with Imo state government to set up a port in the state
He recalled that Gov Hope Uzodimma had also told reporters that “Bonny was like this (ORASHI RIVER) in 1948 until the first vessel came in, then people began to appreciate it.”
Emelumba said with time after the dredging, people will begin to feel the economic benefits of the project.