… Cuts off Onne Seaport, Eleme Refinery, Petrochemical plants
30 August 2017, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – The collapse of Okulu-Aleto bridge in Eleme section of the East-West Road has paralysed investment estimated at more than $50 billion in the Eleme-Onne axis of the industrial hub of Rivers State.
That section of the road had been virtually impassable for more than three years, but became a real logistic nightmare two weeks ago following the collapse of the bridge that allows access to the Port Harcourt refineries in Eleme, the Onne Port complex, Onne Free Zone, Indorama/Eleme Petrochemical Company, Notore Petrochemical Industries and thousand of businesses within the zone.
Head of Operations and Technical services at the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, OGFZA, Mr Adekunle Ajayi, said businesses cut off by the collapse of the East-West Road are collectively worth over $50 billion.
Besides the refineries and others already mentioned, Ajayi said other affected businesses include Intels, which is the Onne Free Zone developer, the West African Container Terminal, WACT; Brawal Shipping Company as well as the international oil companies, IOCs, represented in the free zone.
Among government establishments that are equally cut off by the collapsed road are OGFZA, the Nigerian Port Authority, NPA; Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigerian Naval College, and the Nigeria Immigration Service.
There are also hundreds of sundry businesses and government establishments along the corridor up to Ogoniland that are also no longer accessible from Port Harcourt because of the failure of the road.
Commenting on the condition of the road recently, the Managing Director of OGFZA, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, said apart from its adverse impact on existing businesses in the axis, the logistic crisis caused by the failed section of the road constitutes a serious deterrence to foreign direct investment which the Federal Government has been campaigning for.
“No foreign investor wants to stake his money where he cannot have access to,” Umana said.
The OGFZA boss explained that he has drawn the attention of the Minister of the Niger Delta and the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to the condition of the road, and commended the NDDC for its intervention.
Umana however, added that what was needed was a holistic and permanent solution to the bad state of the road.
The terrible condition of the road, it would be recalled, attracted the attention of the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, in 2015, who met with investors and government establishments within the axis.
On the prompting of Governor Wike, the investors and the Rivers State Government contributed N3 billion to assist in the repair of the failed section of the road, which measures about seven kilometres. The money was disbursed to a road construction company, RCC, to carry out repairs on the road.
However, less than two years after, the road has become impassable again.
The East-West Road, it should be noted, is a Federal Government trunk ‘A’ road, intended to link the South-South, South-East and South Western parts of the country.