By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River has blamed the failure of the over USD400 million Tinapa premier business and leisure resort project to drive the State’s economy as many had hoped on its concept which relied heavily on the federal government.
Mr. Ayade stated this Wednesday in Calabar during media parley where he explained that his administration has done its best for the project.
Ayade said he trotted the globe and even met the people who proposed Tinapa to take it over and ensure it works, but, after eighteen months, they left and could not get their vision to fruition due to the way the project which many have described as a white elephant was conceived.
“The only way Tinapa could function and have a breathe of life was that Tinapa itself was conceived and licensed on the following premises;
“One, that federal government will do the dualisation of Aba – Calabar road. Two, they were going to dredge the Tinapa and three, they were going to give proper status to the international airport.
“These three conditions (were) completely out of the control of the State and they are conditions which led to the dormancy of Tinapa.
“If you don’t know, you will just sit there and just assume that ah, why is the Governor not doing something about it?
“But, Tinapa in summary, big four shopping auditoriums, open and empty. So literally speaking, it is not like it is a business, it is just an arcade available for you to come and keep things and sell. It is not like a factory that is producing and earning income.
“Tinapa is not connected to the national grid. So up till now, you can only use generator in Tinapa. So you have a very large avalanche of landscape with a monthly security operating cost that is almost at the level of a hundred million.
“You have a running cost of about a hundred million plus, monthly with a zero income, with zero footfalls and you go round the world trying to get people; oh why don’t you sell it as an export processing zone?” Ayade said.
According to him, all the investors he has met are requesting for “75 million dollars counterpart fund from the State.”
He left the journalists laughing momentarily when he said: “For anyone of you who wants to take Tinapa and bring life to it, you can have it right now.”
Government House Sources had disclosed to CrossRiverWatch that following several pleas by the Governor, the Nigerian Customs Service had allowed for some products to be shipped in through Tinapa in order to keep it alive.
And, Ayade said the resort also suffered the, “disadvantage of the macroeconomic climate in Nigeria. That prime insecurity in the exchange rate, the uncertainty of how you can export your currency out of Nigeria; all those macroeconomic factors that are not wholly controlled by the State which is no fault of Tinapa itself.”
He maintained that the possibility of Tinapa and the existing Calabar port been the resuscitation source of the State’s economy became difficult.
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