• Monday, June 17, 2024
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Buhari launches Nigeria’s $1.5bn Lekki Port as operator set for commercial operations

Buhari launches Nigeria’s $1.5bn Lekki Port as operator set for commercial operations

President Muhammadu Buhari has on Monday in Lagos officially commissioned the $1.5 billion newly completed Lekki Deep Seaport located at the Ibeju Lekki area of Lagos State.

With the official commissioning, the port has become eligible to begin commercial operations of receiving imports and shipping exports out from Nigeria, which according to the port promoter, will begin before the end of first quarter of this year.

Buhari commissioned the much-awaited port after the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had received the first container vessel operated by the CMA-CGM, which brought cargo to Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports, and made its way to Lekki Port to take delivery of empty containers used for the shipment of the equipment used during the construction of the port.

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

Sanwo-Olu, described the project as the biggest infrastructure in the whole of West Africa, saying it would surely generate thousands of jobs in the country.

He said the port project is a collaboration between the Federal Government and Lagos State government as well as the private sector stakeholders.

He expressed joy that the execution of the project which took off under Buhari’s administration was completed during his tenure.

Sanwo-Olu, therefore, thanked the President for his commitment to development of the project and appreciated all those contributed immensely to bringing the project to reality.

Earlier in his address, Mohammed Bello-Koko, the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said that having a depth of 16.5 metres will enable bigger vessels and more cargos to come into the port with economies of scale, which will bring down the cost of doing business in Lekki Port.

According to him, the port will not only create employment but will be more efficient than other ports in Nigeria and a model for port development in Nigeria.

He said that the NPA will be the regulator and had acquired the equipment needed for the provision of marine services for safe berthing of vessels at Lekki.

“We already have interest from a certain neighbouring African country that wants to move its cargoes from Lekki Port through Dala Inland Dry Port in Kano to the the African country because the country has seen the possibility of smooth operations and efficiency at Lekki Port, ” he added.

On his part, Emmanuel Jime, executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), said the port is fully automated, digitalised and will enable the terminal operator to render quality services to port users.

He said the port will also ensure that businesses are done seamlessly, thereby positioning it as the only Nigerian port with the lowest cost of doing business.

He however said that Shippers’ Council will continue to monitor the port to ensure that efficiency and quality services are rendered at the port.

Meanwhile, Tang Qiaoliang, chairman of CHEC, said that Lekki Port is the first deep seaport in Nigeria, a major trade hub in West Africa.

Read also: Buhari urges Arab bank to increase investment in Nigeria

According to him, the port will improve the Nigerian port industry by easing the burden of cargo shipment flow, creating employments, and ultimately promoting international trade.

He said the firm sees opportunity in Nigeria, and has committed adequate financial investments and essential technology, together with Nigerians in the construction and operation of the Port.

“Under the framework of the China Africa Forum, the Belt and Road Initiative, we look forward to establishing long-term strategic partnerships, in the infrastructure sector with the Federal Government of Nigeria. This will ultimately deepen the relations and cooperation between Nigeria and China, better serving the Nigerian people and its economy,” he said.

On his part, Mohan Vaswani, chairman of Tolaram Group, who spoke via Zoom, said the completion and commissioning of the port is an important milestone for Tolaram and Nigeria.

Vaswani, who said that the journey started in 2003 with President Olusegun Obasanjo approval for the port project to be developed, added that the port will increase the economic well-being of Nigeria and its people.

While pointing out that the 20 years journey has been challenging with many hurdies, he however said that the Federal and State Governments have been creating an enabling environment for foreign investors to flourish in Nigeria.