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Otobong SAMPSON

The past administration under Governor Godswill Akpabio did nothing, other than land acquisition, to drive the Ibom Deep Seaport project, it has been revealed. The hindsight was given by Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Lands and Town Planning, Arc. Ime Ekpo during an online media programme: *SEVEN QUESTIONS with Otobong Sampson.* The Seaport is situated on a 14,500 hectres of land and lies between the communities of Ibaka and Unyenge in Mbo Local Government Area with stretches to Ibeno.
He disclosed that it was only after Governor Udom Emmanuel assumed office that both the Industrial City and the Seaport have been given adequate attention.

‘Apart from acquiring land, no other thing was done on the project. It is during the present administration that consultants have been appointed to prepare master plans and before such plans are prepared in an area of 14,500 hectres, one needs the topography survey which was never done’. The master plan, he added, is ready. With the preferred bidder announced, the state government is waiting for the award of contract by the Federal Executive Council.

Ekpo said the importance and significance of the seaport to the country is not lost on the APC led federal government which is why it has proposed to extend the rail from Lagos to Calabar to link it to the location of Ibom Industrial City.
‘As we speak, the Tincan Island and Apapa Port are totally congested. It takes an average of 42 days for a trailer to go in and come out. This slows down the entire economy, ours is most preferred at the moment because it doesn’t require much dredging’.

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Another lofty project embarked by the governor to make the state economically attractive, as disclosed by the commissioner, is the establishment of a free trade zone (Liberty Free Trade Zone). The Zone spans through six local government areas including Esatern Obolo, Oruk Anam, ONNA, Ikot Abasi and Mkpat Enin. Already, government has acquired 50,000 hectres of land for the project which is expected to have lots of industries, housing estates, commercial and industrial areas.

On the achievements of the governor in the last three years and eleven months in the town planning sector, he said the administration has established new towns, new estates and new settlements across the state. These include some in Ikot Adaidem (Ibiono), Ikot Akpadip (Ikono) with good schools, health centres, supermarkets and police station. Other such settlements are in Ikot Abasi, Eket and ONNA. Within Uyo Capital City are Ikono Uyo, Ikot Ekpeyak, Ibiaku and Obio Ndobo as well as former Equitorial Guinea Returnees Farm where federal government is also building something similar.

‘We are also opening up master plan roads, new roads and doing the outer loop roads. From Uyo to Oruk Anam, ONNA, Ibeno and Ikot Abasi, the construction of roads and opening up of the state are going on at the same time. This is to ensure both a system of order and ease of traffic.

‘By the East-West road just by the boundary of Akwa Ibom and River State, there’s a land being cleared and it is being reclaimed’.

The government, Ekpo stated is partnering a Singapore based businessman and indigene of the state to establish a ship building yard there. Before the end of June, Akwa Ibom’s first indigenous ship will be built, he assured.

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Assessing the level of work on the International Christian Worship Centre, Arc. Ekpi said work had since begun on the site with focus on the revolving podium currently. Rig for commencement of piling work will arrive next week, while he submitted that the edifice when completed, will not only be a place of worship as it would have huge tourism appeal like the Solomon Temple in Brazil.

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