BY PHILIP NWOSU

Mercury Maritime Concession Company (MMCC), a company specializing in maritime infrastructure development, said it has concluded plans to deliver a multi-billion dollar Escravos industrial project between 2024 and 2025.

The company’s chairman, Rear Admiral Andrew Okoja (Rtd.), who revealed it on
Speaking to reporters on World Hydrography Day 2022 on Tuesday, he said the Build, Operate, Own and Transfer (BOOT) model for the $50 billion project includes a deep sea port, a gas plant, a natural park and an airport, which would be built on 31,000 hectares of land in the delta state of Gbaramatu.

Admiral Okoja said: “We are a private company and the project we are doing is a multi-billion deep sea port project like the Lagos Deep Seaport project.

“Our Escravos Seaport industrial project includes a deep-sea port and several other mega-projects; there is a refinery, a gas plant, there is a free zone, there is also a natural park and an airport.

“The amount of the contract is around $50 billion, and we have just started with the deep water port and the connectivity now.

“This port is on a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) basis like Lagos Deep Sea Port, and the estimated delivery time of the port is between 2024 and 2025.

“This project is led by MMCC and we have around 25 foreign and local consultants and partners working on this project. It is set up by the Port of Antwerp International, the second largest port in Europe; apart from the port of Rotterdam.

Speaking about the multi-phase project plan, Okoja revealed that each time, the value of the port would be determined by the volume of cargo flow, and that the strength of the connectivity the company has entered into is a good basis for the project.

His words: “The value of the port itself is determined by the volume of the flow of goods, and this is because we have taken care of maritime, rail and road connectivity. Due to its size, it will capture approximately 70% of the geographic distribution of the entire country.

world hydrography day

“From the port, for example, the maritime connectivity goes from the port of Escravos to the Niger River and up to Onitsha. From Onitsha, the second phase climbs up to Lokoja. The first phase is going to be about 350 km; from the port to Onitsha, then from Onitsha to Lokoja, it is about 200 km.

The MMCC chairman also revealed that the company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Suez Canal Authority in Egypt, and they will be the ones to open the project.

He added that: “This connectivity will be granted and it is being discussed with the Ministry of Transport; concession between 50 and 75 years.

On the second connectivity, which is rail connectivity; Okoja it would connect the Port to Warri and from Warri it would go up to Itakpe, Ajaokuta.

He added, however, that the company would take the segment from the port of Escravos to Warri, which is approximately 47 km, and that it is also conceded and that it would be an electric train; the first electric train in Nigeria.

To operate the electric train, the company would generate about 2,000 megawatts of electricity, Okoja said.

The third phase, according to the MMCC chairman, is a direct route from the seaport of Escravos to join the Warri-Sapele road, around the Koko junction.

He added that: “We are also granting concessions for another 50 years and we are going to toll. With this, we have the flow of goods in and out and we estimate to cover 70% of the geographical distribution.

“So any cargo arriving by land and air would enter there. And the value of a port is determined by the flow, its traffic.

“We got tentative approval from the federal government to build the port, so we brought in all these contractors.”

It is expected that upon completion and start-up of the project, the ports of Lagos would be decongested, while thousands of jobs would be created in the sector.

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