Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
Cross River governor, Ben Ayade’s dream of actualizing a deep seaport at Bakassi, which cost has been put at $2 billion may be gradually attaining reality, with the expression of interest made on the project by Antwerp Ports International of Belgium.
Stefan Cassimon, the port director of Antwerp Ports International, led a team of technical directors and experts from the Port of Antwerp to an inspection of the site, which is at the Calabar River emptying into the Atlantic Ocean on Nigeria’s south-eastern flank. Governor Ayade took the Belgians on a boat ride to the deep seaport site. He said the visit was to do a reconnaissance, a required survey of the location, suitability and adaptability of the port.
Daniel Bertrand, the Belgian ambassador to Nigeria, had earlier visited Governor Ayade in Calabar, the state capital, with a team of Belgian maritime experts.
The ambassador said the team was in Calabar “to discuss further on the wonderful project in Bakassi, and to ensure that the project, that is the deep seaport, will be a success as soon as possible.”
He said that Cross River was of interest to Belgium because the state is close to the sea, with so many potentials and endowed with very industrious population. “I think that a lot is possible here for you and for us,” he said.
Ambassador Bertrand assured of his country’s commitment to the project saying: “We are also here to ensure that Belgium contributes actively in this wonderful project”.
Governor Ayade said the tour (of the deep seaport) will strengthen commitment to the partnership with the Port of Antwerp and the Cross River State Government, to either take the investment for public placement strategy or direct investment by investors.
“For such a well-celebrated name in the maritime industry to have decided to get involved with the Bakassi Deep Seaport project, is a great plus for us in Cross River State. The deep seaport is one of our on-going legacy projects,” the governor said.
He lauded Antwerp Ports International’s interest in the Bakassi Deep Seaport, saying Nigeria will have a lot to benefit from the port, which he described as the first industrial cargo seaport as approved by the Federal Ministry of Transportation.
Ayade said the Bakassi Deep Seaport would create a shortcut between the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean and northern Nigeria, with the view to exporting solid minerals that abound in that part of the country. “The future is Africa, and that future starts today. Cross River is smart enough to partner with the Port of Antwerp international for the development of the Bakassi Deep Seaport to take the Atlantic Ocean closer to northern Nigeria, to allow for the full exploitation of the iron ore deposits and all the solid mineral deposits for the wealth and prosperity of Nigeria,” he said.