BusinessDay

Lekki Port: Construction rate gives hope of achieving 2022 completion target

There are indications that the promoters of the Lekki Deep Sea Port project would likely deliver the port by the 2022 completion deadline, judging by the level of construction works on site.

Owned by Tolaram Group in partnership with China Harbour Engineering, the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) and the Lagos State government, Lekki Port, when completed would take the pressure off Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports, Nigeria’s two major seaports, presently overwhelmed by persistent traffic congestion and high yard occupancy rate.

BusinessDay finding shows that there is an increase in the level of construction works on the project site, which first became intense in 2018, when major construction work began on the main breakwater, one of the biggest components in port construction.

This was made possible by the injection of a reasonable amount of equity funding by the partners. For instance, a total of $221,047,248 equity funding was paid by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) in March 2020.

The injected funds came in five months after the Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited, the special purpose vehicle for the port project, sealed a deal in Lagos in October 2019 with the China Development Bank (CDB) for the funding of the Lekki Deep Seaport project to the tune of $629 million.

“I am pleased to confirm that Lekki Port has received the $221,047,248 equity funding from China Harbour Engineering Company. The payment was received on Monday, 30th March 2020,” Biodun Dabiri, chairman of Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited, said.

According to Dabiri, this equity injection coming at a time the world is battling coronavirus pandemic shows the deep commitment of CHEC to the success of the port project, which will greatly contribute to fast-tracking the timely delivery of the project.
In October 2020, the developer of the port started construction work on the 680m long quay wall.

Ruogang Du, CEO of Lekki Port, said during the commencement of the work that the piling of the quay wall, which is a major phase of the construction, symbolised a significant step towards the timely delivery of the port project.

Both the investors and contractors have demonstrated commitment to delivering the project as at when due, with construction now at full steam despite the setback caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Du said.

“Covid-19 has harmed global economic development and personnel mobility everywhere. However, developers and investors in Lekki Port have not stopped moving forward. We are actively resuming construction and are striving to fulfill our commitment to officially open the port for operations in the first half of 2023. This is a commitment to Lagos and to Nigeria, and we will do our best to achieve it,” he said.

However, business owners and policymakers are keen on seeing the port begins commercial activities in no distant time to take the pressure off other ports in Lagos.

Emma Nwabunwanne, a Lagos-based importer, said Nigeria needs a new deep seaport to complement the existing ones, as ports in Lagos are already running out of capacity going to the mounting level of congestion in the terminals.

This optimism was also expressed on Sunday by Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, during a monitoring visit to the Lekki Port site, as he urged the promoters of the port project to keep to timely completion of 2022.

Amaechi commended the promoters for playing their part in ensuring that the project reached the current level of development.

“I am highly delighted with the level of work done so far with regards to the Lekki Deep Seaport project construction. From what I can see, the construction is moving at the desired pace and a lot of progress has been made. This is really wonderful,” the minister said.
According to Amaechi, the Federal Government cannot wait to see the project completed given the economic potentials that lie in wait.

“As a government, we are fully aware of what the project means to the growth of the economy. No doubt, the completion and eventual take-
off of the Port for business operations would create thousands of jobs, which would consequently boost GDP growth.”

Before moving the port project to the construction stage, Tolaram Group had invested about $150 million collected from equity paid by the project partners. It completed the basic design and worked on detailed design; finalised geotechnical investigations both onshore and offshore; completed hydrographical, bathymetrical, and topographical surveys and hauled over 100,000 tons of rock for the breakwaters.

Upon completion, Lekki Port would have two container berths of 680-metre-long and 16.5-meter water depth, and will also have the capacity to berth fifth-generation container ships with a capacity of 18,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) ships.

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