The problem with Benin Industrial Park 2024

 

The Benin Enterprise Park project is in phases, as I understand. The main problem that Governor Obaseki has faced right from day one is the communities around the industrial park. Some of the communities took Governor Obaseki and Edo State Government to court. The court cases have slowed down the development of Benin Industrial Park.The industrial park is work in progress. Some of the host communities are encroaching on the Benin industrial park land and there are several legal tussles by some host communities. There is no fraud concerning the establishment of Benin Industrial park but Governor Obaseki has been struggling with the host communities over the location of the park. 

The major issue Governor Obaseki had was that there was no exchange rate that he could rely on or use to hedge. There was the black market, there were so many different values until Nigria could not come up with this single-digit exchange rate system . Secondly, COVID-19 came about, and then elections. Nobody goes into a new environment during elections because of the uncertainty.

Some people lack ingenuity and creativity. The recent shenanigans on Benin Industrial park were adopted to play a fast game on the people of Edo State over projects fully initiated by Governor Obaseki.  It is a sour reminder to how campaign of calumny has sunk under the kick-and-start of some people in Edo State before 2024 election. My advice is that people should not play politics with Benin Industrial Park as we approach 2024 election.

The Edo State Government has on several fora warned trespassers encroaching on the land marked out for the Benin Industrial Park, to desist immediately from any development work on the land, as activities are gearing up for the commencement of work on the park.

The warning, contained in a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie Esq. in Benin City Edo State, noted that relevant Geographic Information System (GIS) data have been gathered to ensure that the perimeter of the land is properly delineated.

The statement said, “Individuals and groups encroaching on the land acquired by the State Government for the development of the Benin Industrial Park are warned to desist forthwith.” It added, “The state government had on September 28, 2017, put out a notice informing the public of the acquisition of the property, after which it ascertained the level of development on the land, to guard against activities of land grabbers and other miscreants.

“To establish the level of development on the land at the time, the state government had earlier carried out an aerial survey of the property through the Geographic Information System (GIS) Agency. The survey revealed little development on the land.” He said government has observed that some persons are illegally moving into the land to develop private properties, warning that such people will be considered criminals and the full wrath of the law will be unleashed on them.

He cautioned individuals with illegal structures on the land to stop work immediately, noting, “All those who have erected illegal structures on the property after the acquisition of the land will not be compensated, as the Development Control Unit in the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development has been directed to commence markings on the land. He reiterated that “the area acquired for the Benin Industrial Park has been mapped and anyone developing properties on any part of the land does so at his or her own risk.”

 Benin Industrial Park is covering a total area of almost 1,000 hectares. The site, located about 20 kilometer south of Benin City in Edo State, is established as a free trade zone including both industrial and commercial areas as well as an attached residential area inclusive local recreation areas. The park will provide jobs for up to 35,000 people and housing for up to 20,000 residents. Its own 575 MW multi-stage gas turbine power plant will ensure a self-sufficient power supply for the entire area.

Edo State Government has developed a convincing and well conceived, construction-phase-oriented development concept for the entire site. In addition to traffic planning, the concept also includes the supply of drinking water, electricity and gas as well as rainwater drainage, wastewater disposal and empty conduit systems for data and communications networks. Edo State Government has made provision for the commercial and industrial usage of a 93 hectares sub-area.

The Benin Enterprise Park Limited (BEPL), which was initially the Benin Industrial Park (BIP), was one of the first projects Governor Godwin Obaseki. The governor had a vision which was thoroughly researched and ultimately converted to a strategic document, which gave birth to the Six Thematic Pillars that have guided the deliberate reform that is the MEGA (Make Edo Great Again) Agenda. The economic reform and infrastructural development pillars are great. The Benin Enterprise Park project came up as a result of the need to create commerce, improve commerce, increase commerce, increase trading, increase businesses, create a system and a situation where businesses come into Edo State and set up seamlessly. The first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was with Mahindra Engineering Group, they came in and spent about six months, chosed the location for the park, which most people do not realize is equidistant from all over the State, including Delta State, thus taking advantage of our geographical location for intra and inter-state commerce. We also chose the location because of the raw materials readily available in the State to support the 14 sectors identified in our Master Plan, which I must say is a dynamic document.

The criteria for choosing those 14 sectors have to do with the amount of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) potential for the state, the amount of jobs that they will create for the state, and also the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for that area of the State that will benefit the local communities.

The location for the Benin Enterprise Park is in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of the State, about 10-minute drive from the by-pass. It is 997.71 hectares of land and it has been decided to develop it modularly.

The initial thought process was to do a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement. We explored that possibility, and then we had the interest rate issues. As a foreign direct investor, when you go into any economy, any country, or anywhere you want to invest your money, there must be an exit strategy. Now, it is a problem if you don’t know how you are going to repatriate your investment and profits at the end, or you are not sure how that is going to happen. You now have a situation where you are reluctant to come in there.

Inwalomhe Donald

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