By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos
The newly constructed Lekki Deep Seaport in Lagos has been commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari, just as he described it as a significant game-changer for the nation’s maritime economy.
The port, which cost $1.5 billion, which is the largest and deepest seaport in West Africa, would create 170,000 jobs from port operations and have aggregate impact of $361bn on the Nigerian economy over a concession period of 45 years.
Commissioning the project in Lagos on Monday, President Buhari applauded the promoter of the Lekki port for achieving the feat, which he said will significantly boost the nation’s economy. Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, described the project as the biggest infrastructure in the whole of West Africa, saying it would generate thousands of jobs in the country.
He stated that the multi- billion naira project is a collaboration between the Federal and Lagos State government as well as the private stakeholders.
Buhari expressed joy that the execution of the project which took off under Buhari’s administration was completed during his tenure.
“We are indeed excited that the project execution started during your regime and it is now completed during your tenure,” he said.
Speaking at the occasion, Sanwo – Olu thanked President Buhari for his commitment to development of the country and appreciated all those who contributed immensely to bringing the project to reality.
In his goodwill message, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority ( NPA) Muhammed Bello- Koko described the commissioning of the port as a dream come true.
He said the port with a depth of 16.5 meters will attract bigger vessels, create more employment as well as reduce cost of doing business at the nation’s ports. He added that the port will be a model for upcoming ports in the country.
“For us at the NPA, this is a dream come true because Lekki Deep Sea Port will be the deepest and most modern port in Nigeria with a depth of about 16.5 meters as it will be able to bring in bigger vessels and more cargoes so therefore economics of scale would set in and we believe that the cost of doing business in this country will be lower compared to other countries and it will also provide employment opportunities and it will be more efficient. It will also be a model for other upcoming deep sea ports in Nigeria.
“While sitting here we already have interest from a certain neighboring country that is already talking about moving their cargoes from Lekki to Kano then to the African country because they have seen the opportunity of smooth operations here and the efficiency,” he said.
Bello- Koko said NPA will be responsible for regulating and providing marine services to the port adding that the Agency had already purchased the necessary equipment that will ensure safe and secured berthing of vessels at the port. Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh, said with the commissioning of the Lekki port, Nigeria has seen the emergence of one of the best ports in Africa.
He said the maritime industry is one of the key areas to pursue in quest for the development of Nigeria’s economy.
In his remarks, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Emmanuel Jime said the Council will monitor the efficiency of the services that will be delivered at the port. In his goodwill message, Chairman Tolaram Group, Mr. Mohan Vaswani thanked President Buhari for creating an enabling environment for foreign investors to flourish in Nigeria. He said the journey into the construction of the port, which began in 2003 was challenging with many hurdles, but with perseverance, the company was able to develop and deliver a world class port in Nigeria.
He described the completion and commissioning of the port as a significant milestone that will increase the economic wellbeing of Nigeria and its citizens. “Tolaram has spent many years in Nigeria and all our mission has been is to make the country better with our efforts. This port being completed and commissioned is an important milestone for Tolaram and Nigeria and we are proud of our humble efforts to develop a world-class port in Nigeria.
“This significant milestone will definitely increase the economic well-being of Nigeria and its people and that is the most important thing. This journey started in 2003 or so, when President Olusegun Obasanjo gave the approval for the port project to be developed. The journey has been challenging with so many hurdles but with God on our side, and the support of the President Buhari administration we have persevered and today we all have something to be proud of,” he said.
On his part, Chairman of China Harbour Engineering Company, (CHEC), Mr. Tang Qiaoliang said Lekki Port being the first deep sea port in Nigeria will improve the Nigerian port industry, easing the burden of cargo shipment flow, creating employments, and ultimately promote international trade in the nation.
“As an international top-tier engineering contractor, investment operator, urban developer and ecological manager, CHEC insists to its philosophy ‘value-orientation’, commits itself to upgrading of ‘platform plus industrial leading’ strategy.
“With such strategy, we see the opportunity in Nigeria, and believe in its potential. So we committed the adequate financial investments and essential technology, together with Nigerians in the construction and operation of the Port,” he said.
He expressed appreciation to Lekki Port stareholders, Lagos State Government, Nigerian Ports Authority, CHEC and Tolaram, for the significant role they have played in bringing the vision into reality.
Lekki Port is a multipurpose deep sea port at the heart of the Lagos Free Zone. The port is poised to be the most modern and deepest seaport in West Africa, offering critical support to burgeoning commercial operations in Lagos State, across Nigeria and the entire West African region. Phase 1 of the multipurpose Port covers an area of 50 hectares, with two container berths and a total capacity of 1.2 million TEUs annually. Upon completion of the final phase, the Port will have three container berths, one dry bulk berth and three liquid berths. The approach channel is about 11km long and 16.5m deep. The main breakwater is 1.9km long and will accommodate a corridor for liquid transport to and from the liquid berths. The three liquid berths will service ships up to 160,000 DWT. The turning circle, which will have a diameter of approximately 600m, will be sufficient to handle 18,000 TEU vessels. Tug boats will assist in the moving of the various vessels. Equipped with the latest super- post Panamax, ship-to-shore cranes and rubber-tyred-gantry cranes, the layout will ensure that the Port will be a modern, efficient facility.
The shareholding structure of the port is as folows: The Lekki port investment Holding Incorporation (international consortium) owns 75%, ( China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd 52.50%, Tolaram 22.5%), the Lagos State government owns 20% while NPA owns 5%.