Thursday, 13 February 2014
TINAPA: ANOTHER WHITE ELEPHANT PROJECT?
The "Africa's Premier Resort", as it is popularly referred to, is crawling under the weight of some N18 billion debt and many other problems that were never envisaged by the initiators of the project.
Could it be true that the initiators never saw the challenges that are now threatening the existence of this colossal project that is costing the Cross River State government the sum of N100 million monthly to keep alive? But it was obvious from the speak of the former Governor, Donald Duke, during a two-day retreat held a month after the commissioning of the project in April 2007 by President Olusegun Obasanjo, that Tinapa will face some post-construction challenges which I want to believe were known, but overlooked, before the commencement of the project.And I want to quickly say that these are more than a post-construction problems. They are live threaten, and if nothing is done now, Tinapa may soon a "ghost resort".
What are these problems, you may ask? They are mirage. They are both political and economic.
1. The Attitude of the Federal Government and its Agencies
Could it be that the Federal Government, under the leadership of the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, did not approve the project? Were the Federal Agencies of Customs and Immigration not aware of the project? All that have been reported and published by the media on this issue indicated a clear disapproval by the project by the former (and maybe, present) administration. On Channels TV, the Governor of Cross River State, in a broadcast which was posted on November 15, 2013, stated that Tinapa's challenges included "the regulations and management of free trade zones", imposition of customs duties on traders, lack of a functional seaport. These are problems, he said, were beyond the control of the state. Simply put, these are problems associated with the Federal Government and its various agencies. And can only be dealt with by the Federal Government. But what is the present administration doing?
Tinapa cannot fund itself. AMCON may save it through a privatization exercise, but how well the new management will manage Tinapa, only time will tell. And I am doubtful of the process and the possibility of undervaluation of the business.
3. Lack of Standard Roads
The African Premier Resort is also threatened by the lack of road infrastructures leading to the state. Roads that were constructed by the Federal Government are in deplorable conditions needing urgent repairs. And the FG is not doing anything to fix them.
3. Poor Location
Tinapa may be suitable for hotels and resorts businesses, but not other retail businesses. And since there are less traffic of persons and low economic activities within the area, retailers may find it difficult to keep their shops open.
Should the nonchalant attitude of the Federal Government and its agencies persist, Tinapa will definitely become a "White Elephant Project" as some cynics decried.
For the location and retail businesses, the management of Tinapa may consider initiating programs that will keep people coming into the area. What type of programs would improve the influx of people into Tinapa?
I would like your comments, please.