BY DOROTHY NNACH in Umuahia
Abia State government has expressed happiness with the progress being recorded in its drive to establish the Enyimba Economic City (EEC), saying that the design for the city has been completed, even as many investors have indicated interest to be part of the project.
The private sector-driven Enyimba Economic City is an integrated Industrial City that would provide dedicated services. It is sitting on 9, 800 hectares of land in the three local governments of Ukwa East, Ukwa West and Ugwunagbo and would be connected by interlinking roads, seaports and rail line and would be private sector-driven.
Afrexim Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Chinese Ruyi Group, the largest global textile manufacturing industry have indicated interest to be part of the project.
Briefing newsmen on the progress made so far in realising the project, Special Adviser to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu on Job Creation, Mr Chinenye Nwaogu, disclosed that $1.3 million was spent on the EEC design.
“We have done the design and we are now on the phase of marketing the design to get big industrialists to come and set up their industries in that industrial city,” Nwaogu said.
“The entire city is divided into zones, including the Oil and Gas zone, industrial area, textile and garment area, the education hub, leisure parks, entertainment parks and the health village, among others,” he said, adding they are all fully integrated.
He said the EEC location was chosen because of its proximity to Owaza in Ukwa West, which has the biggest gas deposit is in Nigeria for ease of power generation.
According to him, EEC is also located between the Onne and Ibom Deep seaports as well as Port Harcourt, Owerri and Uyo airports, all within one-hour distance.
He also said that the project management has applied to the federal government to concession to it, the Enugu -Port Harcourt Expressway, adding that they were working with a British construction firm to manage and rebuild the expressway because it cut through the city.
The management has also been given the approval to construct a dual carriage road from Owaza to Onne because of those who would be involved in shipping.
On power supply, Nwaogu explained that Ruyi Group, which has emerged the major investor, would invest $2.5 billion in Geometric Power Ltd to ensure that uninterrupted power supply to EEC, adding that an agreement to that effect has already been signed.
He said that efforts were in top gear to get the federal government to confer the EEC with the status of a free trade zone, which would allow it operate its own administrative structure without the encumbrances in order to attract more investors.
He said the EEC would be institutionalised with a law to be passed by the Abia State House of Assembly so that it would not be subjected to any undue interference by any administration in the state.
“This project will create jobs in millions. It will redefine the economic, social and technological landscape of Abia State and by extension, the entire country because a lot of exports will happen from there,” Nwaogu said.