As part of the effort to enhance its economic position as a manufacturing and logistics hub in West Africa, Lagos State government will soon begin commercial operations at the Lekki Deep Seaport in Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) in the first quarter of 2023.
Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Friday, disclosed this having received the assurance from Tolaram Group – the frontline investor handling the project.
The port, which is being constructed by China Habour Engineering firm, is occupying 90 hectares in the entire 830 hectares of land carved out for the Lagos Free Zone, created in 2012 is expected to create 170,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Seeing the project master plan, helmsman of Lagos, whose members of the State’s cabinet are currently on a two-day working tour of the three free trade zones established in Ibeju Lekki area of Lagos, stated his satisfaction on the project and said, his administration will be committed to it. He noted that the deep seaport and other investments happening in the corridor have the potential to increase the State’s GDP in multiple folds.
“Given the report I got and what I have seen here, I can say that Lagos Free Zone has made tremendous improvement. We have seen the level of partnership Tolaram Group is bringing in terms of international investment and local brands on this corridor.
“I commend all stakeholders that are with us on this journey we have found ourselves. With the level of work we have seen, I’m truly excited. It is more gratifying that, we are taking up this assignment with all energies required and we all can see what we can achieve when we work together.
“Since we signed a loan agreement less than 18 months ago, we have demonstrated strong capability in bringing the project to reality. This is the first quarter of 2021 and we have seen the project in about 48 per cent completion. The investors have given us the commitment on first quarter of 2023 completion date. We will fulfill all our parts to make sure this date becomes reality,” he said.
The first phase of the seaport project cost $629 million from China Development Bank (CDB) and is at 48 per cent completion.
According to Sanwo-Olu, the size of the deep seaport will allow 18,000 TEU capacity vessels, which are four times bigger than the ones berthing at Apapa seaports, thereby scaling down the cost of container transportation from any part of the world.
In his words, Chief Executive Officer of Lagos Free Zone, Mr. Dinesh Rathi, said Tolaram Group, a Singaporean coy, has initiated a $2 billion investment in the Lagos Free Zone, out of which the investor committed $950 million to developing manufacturing hub in the zone.
While hailing the commitment of the state government for intensifying commercial development, Chairman of Lagos Free Zone Development Company, Mr. Biodun Dabiri, stressed that all statutory permits, licences and endorsement for the Lekki port project were already secured.
“There is strong guarantee that the port will be delivered before time, going by the inflow of capital investment and technical services,” Dabiri said.
The Governor and his entourage also visited Africa’s second largest manufacturing plant of Kellogg Tolaram, manufacturer of cornflakes, which is built in Lagos Free Zone. The Governor toured the processing unit of the firm and inspected the production chain.
Also on Government’s team in the tour are the Chief Executive Officer of Lekki Freeport LFZ, Mr Du Ruogang, and Head of Marketing for LFZ, Ms. Chinju Udora, among others.