Senate Asks FG to Concession Eleme-Onne Axis of East-West Road

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The Senate Committee on Trade and Investment has asked the federal government to concession the Eleme-Onne axis of the East-West Road to private investors for reconstruction and management.

This was made known by the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Francis Fadahunsi, during a visit to the Oil and Gas Free Zone in Onne, Rivers State, where they raised the issue of the deplorable road as a key transport route for the nation’s economy.

Mr Fadahunsi, who led members of the committee to tour the free zone, described Onne Free Zone as a successful initiative in a public-private sector project.

He explained that the committee was conducting the oversight visit in an effort to work with the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) and other stakeholders in the zone to generate more jobs for Nigerians.

He said, “The lone access road to the oil and gas industrial hub in the Eleme-Onne axis of Rivers State needs to be urgently saved from total disrepair, in order to prevent adverse impact on industries located in the area that could lead to a massive loss of jobs and revenue to the government.

“The Eleme-Onne Road is part of the East-West Road network and serves as the only access to the Port Harcourt Refineries at Eleme; the Onne Port Complex; the nation’s flagship Oil and Gas Free Zone at Onne; Indorama-Eleme Petrochemicals Company, which is the nation’s leading fertilizer producer and exporter; as well as the Notore Industries Limited, another fertilizer producer and promoter of the Notore Industrial City (a free zone).”

On his part, the Managing Director of OGFZA, Mr Umana Okon Umana, reiterated the need for the Federal Government to concession the Eleme-Onne section of the East-West Road.

He also presented the OGFZA progress report in infrastructure development, increase in investments and export value, as well as human capital development to the committee.

Presentations were also made by operators in the Free Zone, which include Intels Nigeria Limited and FMCEquip, makers of equipment for deep-sea oil drilling.

FMCEquip, in its presentation, reported 96 per cent compliance with local content laws and regulations and commended the management of OGFZA for being very supportive.

Another stakeholder affected by the recent uproar, Intels, briefed the committee on its billions of dollar investments in infrastructure in the free zone and community support in Rivers State, Cross River and Delta states.

Recently, Niger Delta youths blocked the Eleme axis of the East-West Road with petrol trucks and other articulated vehicles, demanding the immediate reconstruction of the deplorable sections of the road by the federal government.

Following the action, the government sprung to action and appealed to the protesting youths to suspend the protest and promised that repairs will commence.

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