• Monday, October 02, 2023
businessday logo


The Buhari Legacy Series: Lekki Port, Deep Blue, e-call-up top projects under Buhari

Firm clears Lekki Free Port Terminal first container

Lekki Deep Seaport, the Deep Blue project and the introduction of the electronic call-up system are top among the multibillion-naira projects completed in Nigeria’s maritime industry during President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years in office.

Aimed at saving time and reducing costs for port users, the outgoing administration has made significant investments that have helped to reduce the waiting time of vessels and increased the speed of cargo clearing as well as the overall throughput at Nigerian ports.

Just recently, the Federal Government started making progress with the proposed Inland Container Depot (ICD) projects conceived by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and built by private sector investors in seven different locations in the country.

Planned to be built in Isiala Ngwa, Aba; Erunmu, Ibadan; Heipang, Jos; Zawachiki, Kano; Zamfarawa, Funtua; Jauri, Maiduguri and ICNL, Kaduna, but Nigeria has only succeeded in completing the ICDs in Kaduna and Kano.

On January 30, 2023, the President commissioned Dala Inland Dry Port Kano after making it a port where cargoes can be exported to and received from.

Also, on February 2, 2023, the Federal Government declared Funtua Inland Dry Port in Katsina State as a port of origin and final destination. The idea is to bring the shipping business closer to port users, particularly those located in the hinterland and save them the cost of coming to Lagos to take delivery of their consignments.

Lekki Deep Seaport

On January 24, 2023, Buhari officially commissioned Nigeria’s first deep seaport located in the Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos State.

The $1.5 billion Lekki Port was built under a joint venture arrangement between Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Ltd owned by Lekki Port Investment Holdings Inc., China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd and Tolaram, in partnership with the Lagos State Government and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

Pundits believed the completion of the port within a construction timeline of 45 months has proven that the new port had the total backing of the Federal Government shown by the NPA and the Lagos State Government.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos State, said at the launch that Lekki Deep Seaport is the largest in West Africa and will generate thousands of jobs for Nigerians.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Bello-Koko, managing director of NPA, said that having a depth of 16.5 metres will enable bigger vessels and more cargo to come into the port with economies of scale, which will bring down the cost of doing business for port users.

He said the coming on board of the new port has pushed Nigeria closer to becoming the hub in the West African region as the NPA has started receiving expressions of interest from neighbouring African countries that want to move their cargoes from Lekki Port through Dala Inland Dry Port in Kano.

Deep Blue Project

On June 10, 2021, Buhari launched the $195 million Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure framework, known as the Deep Blue Project.

Approved by the Federal Executive Council in 2017, the project was conceived by the Ministry of Transportation under the leadership of Rotimi Amaechi as the minister, to tackle piracy, sea robbery, kidnapping, oil theft, smuggling, illegal trafficking of drugs and other related maritime crimes on Nigeria’s territorial waters and its Exclusive Economic Zone up to the Gulf of Guinea region.

It enabled acquiring and deploying assets such as two special mission vessels, 17 fast interceptor boats, two special mission aircraft, three helicopters, four unmanned aerial vehicles and 16 armoured vehicles for tackling maritime insecurity.

Buhari said at the official commissioning of the project that the deep blue project was a strong statement of the government’s intent to tackle piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

BusinessDay findings have shown that Nigeria has received several commendations from international bodies for investing in the Deep Blue project as there has been a drastic reduction in incidents of piracy and other maritime-related crimes in the region.

Electronic call-up system

After several years of suffering losses due to persistent traffic congestion on the access roads leading to Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports in Lagos, port users and residents finally heaved a sigh of relief following the introduction of the electronic call-up system by the NPA, in partnership with Trucks Transit Parks Ltd.

Introduced in February 2021, the call-up system, which sees to batching of port-bound trucks in an orderly manner, has helped to address the challenges of traffic gridlock in the Lagos ports, using a technology known as Eto App.

The NPA went further in November 2022 to designate the Lilypond Container Terminal in Ijora, Lagos as a specialised facility for processing and handling the export of locally made agricultural and finished goods. This has enabled the ease of carrying out documentation needed for non-oil export cargo into the port and helped to reduce post-harvest wastages for farm produce.

Also, Buhari’s administration has paid serious attention to revamping Eastern Ports through the dredging and mapping of the Escravous channel, acquiring patrol boats for patrolling the waterfront to enhance security and giving 10 percent rebate on harbour dues for vessels calling at the Eastern Ports.

This has started yielding results as in December 2017, Calabar Port commenced export of bulk cement to Tema Port in Ghana in December 2017 and three container ships berthed at Calabar Port in 2019, for the first time in 11 years.