By Funke Cole
One thing that continues to define the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration is the propensity to walk the talk and deliver on campaign promises, such that anything he touches literally turns to gold. This is self-evident in the newly completely $1.5 billion Lekki Deep Seaport.
From the onset of his administration in 2019, the governor signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Ports Authority on the possibility of having a seaport that would boost maritime trade within the state and across the West African subregion. Three years down the line, the construction of the Port, which officially started on 15 June, 2020, was completed on Monday, 24, October 2022.
The Lekki Deep Seaport was built under the public-private partnership initiative with a shareholding structure where the international consortium, led by Lekki Port Investment Holding Inc., holds a 75 percent stake; Lagos State Government, a 20 percent stake; and the Nigerian Ports Authority, 5 percent respectively.
While commissioning the edifice last November, an elated Governor Sanwo-Olu described as exciting the many possibilities which the seaport presents. “We are excited about having another deep seaport on the Western side of the city, the Lekki Deep Seaport on the Eastern side. What it means is that, what we have been suffering as a logistics and commerce hub of West Africa will be addressed when we increase maritime infrastructure that improves turnaround time in this sector. With this, Lagos is assured to remain the economic and commercial nerve centre of the entire sub-Saharan Africa,” he gushed.
While reeling out the benefits of the newly completed $1.5 billion Lekki Deep Seaport to the Nigerian economy, he said the port, which is West Africa’s deepest, will serve as West and Central Africa’s main transhipment hub. The maritime infrastructure is also expected to add tens of billions of dollars in revenue to “our country, state and host community”, Sanwo-Olu said, adding that it has a concession period of 45 years.
Besides ensuring a seamless evacuation of cargo, the port will spur economic activities around the Lekki axis and the wider Lagos State through rapid industrialisation. At the handover of the facility by China Harbour Engineering LFTZ Enterprise (CHELE), the governor said that the port, which covers a land area of 90 hectares, would create close to 200, 000 direct and indirect jobs.
According to him, the vision for the construction of the port was based on the initiative of the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Sanwo-Olu expressed delight with the completion of the port and reaffirmed the state’s commitment to the timely delivery of the road infrastructure network around the Ibeju Lekki axis. He said this would ensure the seamless evacuation of cargo from the port. Nigeria, the governor said, is closing in on its ambitions to get on the global map for shipping services with the port, adding that with the completion, the country would become a transhipment hub and regain the maritime business that was lost to ports in the neighbouring countries like Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, and Ghana.
Sanwo-Olu said: “We have gathered here today for the competition of the construction of one of the deepest seaports you can see anywhere in the world. Once again, Lagos State has happily demonstrated why it is called Nigeria’s pacesetter state and the commercial nerve centre of our country. And this continues to propel us and even for us at the government under our T.H.E.M.E.S agenda, making Lagos a 21st century economy in a mega city that is resilient, consistent and stands tall with the big nations in the world”.
The project, according to him, “is one of the cardinal points of our belief for a greater Lagos. As we all know, Apapa and Tin Can ports are already Nigeria’s biggest ports. But now, we have a world-class, state-of-the-art, fully automated Lekki Deep Seaport. Yet, we are not resting. We know that when we have a port facility, other complementary things are supposed to happen.
“I am sure that you are all aware that we just received approval to also build the Lekki airport not far off from here. These are massive investments that will also complement the LFTZ. We are delighted with China Harbour Engineering Company Limited and the momentous decision to be part of the massive economic transformation taking place here. Thank you for putting in investments.
“Like I said, the benefits of this project and the benefits to our citizens can be better imagined. Providing jobs to close to 200,000 people in the next couple of months and years ahead, in addition to adding tens of billions in dollar revenue to our country, state and host community.
“I want to use this opportunity to assure our private players on this project and commitment that Lagos state government is bringing to bed but ensuring that all out promises and ensuring that this location is not going to be a gridlock.
“I also want the citizens to know that we are turning this place into a six-lane highway and so there are shanties along the road; let’s push them away and clear the road. And to all our many other investors that are intending to invest in the LFTZ, I want to make it clear that you can count on us to ensure that the ease of doing business is not a lip service thing, it is something that we are committed to doing.
“A few weeks ago, we came around to unveil and hand over the biggest terminal for petroleum products right inside the LFTZ as well. So, a lot of conversations are going on there. I want to challenge investors that this is where you need to be, this is the zone that is specially designed for you and all our stakeholders that made that happen”.