By Chiazo Ogbolu and Florence Onuegbu, Lagos.
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on Monday described the Lekki Deep Sea Port as a model for other deep sea ports in the country.
The Managing Director of NPA, Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, said this at the official inauguration of the Lekki Deep Sea Port by President Muhammadu Buhari in Lagos.
Bello-Koko said that the Lekki Deep Sea Port was the deepest and most modern port in the country, which could accommodate bigger vessels and cargoes.
“This will be a model for other deep sea ports in Nigeria and I say congratulations to the investors and the project delivery team, the Lekki Port management team, for a job well done,” he said.
Bello-Koko also appreciated President Buhari for the necessary approvals and the Federal Ministry of Transportation for making the project a reality.
“Recall that the port has been in the drawing board for over 10 years; four years ago when we came here, it was just a sand-filled area.
“Today, we are talking about the commissioning and we thank the president for the approval given to make this happen,” he said.
The managing director noted that the Lekki Deep Port was just the beginning of greater things in the sector.
Bello-Koko said that the NPA, as the regulator, would be responsible for providing marine services and others needed to ensure seamless service delivery.
Also, Dr Bashir Jamoh, the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, said that Nigeria had seen the advent of one of the best ports in West Africa.
“Today, we are seeing the realisation of the commissioning of the best port in Africa, which is expected to inject not less than $360 billion (into the economy) and provide employment to not less than 190,000 Nigerians.
“Secondly, we have seen dedication and political will on this project. This project was started by this administration with sincerity of purpose,” Jamoh said.
Also speaking, Mr Emmanuel Jime, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, noted that he was glad to witness the delivery of what would be the game-changer in the maritime industry.
Jime congratulated the Federal Ministry of Transportation and all the stakeholders involved in the delivery of the Lekki Deep Sea Port.
The Chairman of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), Mr Tang Qiaoliang, noted that the port would improve the Nigerian port industry, ease burden of cargo shipment flow, create employment and promote international trade.
“As an international top-tier engineering contractor, investment operator, urban developer and ecological manager, CHEC insists on its philosophy ‘value-orientation’, commits itself to upgrading of ‘platform plus industrial leading’ strategy.
“With such strategy, we see the opportunity in Nigeria and we believe in its potential. So, we committed the adequate financial investment and essential technology, together with Nigerians, in the construction and operation of the port.
“Under the framework of the China Africa Forum and the Belt and Road Initiative, we look forward to establishing long-term strategic partnerships in the infrastructure sector with the Federal Government of Nigeria,” Oiaoliang said.
He noted that the project would deepen the bilateral trade and cooperation between Nigeria and China.
The Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited (LPLEL) is a joint venture enterprise owned by foreign promoters, Lekki Port Investment Holdings Inc. (comprising China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd. and Tolaram), the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government.
LPLEL is incorporated under the Companies & Allied Matters Act regime and licensed by the Lagos Free Zone to operate in the Free Zone under the NEPZ Act.
This opens a host of benefits for Lekki Port regarding taxes, duties, and other incentives.
The Lekki Port is a multi-purpose Deep Sea Port at the heart of the Lagos Free Trade Zone, one of the most modern ports, supporting the burgeoning trade across Nigeria and the entire West African region.
The shareholders of this visionary project are the NPA, the Lagos State Government, China Harbour Engineering Company and Tolaram.