Penultimate Friday, the Lekki Deep Seaport in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos received the first vessel to dock at the port carrying operating equipment, heralding the dream start of commercial operations within weeks. Reports by SULEIMAN IDRIS.
At exactly 1:30 p.m. on a mild and sunny Friday, July 1, when the ship, ZHEN HUA 28, a heavy-duty carrier, docked at the pier of Lekki deep seaport, the cheers and cheers of the crowd in ecstatic expectation followed with the fireworks display which lasted over 12 minutes, the gyrations of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) contingent led by the Managing Director, Mohammed Bello-Kuku, the staff of Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited led by the Chairman, Mr. Biodun Dabiri and those from China Harbor Engineering LFTZ Enterprise (CHELE), the port’s EPC contractor, and a host of others recount the historic significance of the day to Nigeria’s realization of the dream to create a modern port that will rival the best in the maritime world. .
The pioneer vessel arrived in port with 3 Super Post Panamax Ships to Shore (STS) cranes and 10 rubber-tyred gantry cranes (RTG) that will facilitate the rapid transfer of containers from vessels anchored to the shore for onward transportation to desired locations. The RTG cranes and equipment will be operated by Lekki Freeport Terminal, a subsidiary of the CMA CGM Group. The arrival and installation of the state-of-the-art industrial equipment is seen as a major step and a significant boost before the start of port operations in September this year.
An optimistic Mohammed Bello-Kuku determined not to miss the historic moment when the port berth ZHEN HUA 28 arrived at his office at the NPA Cooperate headquarters in Marina on Lagos Island a few minutes after 6 a.m. morning on Red Letter Day to begin the 35 kilometer journey which would normally take at least a 42 minute drive but with the chaotic traffic jam on the Victoria Island-Lekki-Epe route, he set sail on time, arriving thus more than an hour before the ship touches the quay.
The delighted NPA helmsman could not hide the joy of his dream of bringing a new modern seaport to birth for Nigeria coming to fruition. Kuku said, “What today’s event means is that the dream is coming true, now you can see that it’s fully possible, now you can see that all things being equal, this will happen by 2022. This means that our plan to have an automated port is in operation. This means that our dream of having a maritime hub here in Nigeria is achievable. It is a dream that I think we are already realizing. It’s now a matter of how many more weeks between now and September.”
Nigeria the preferred hub for shipping companies
The $2 billion investment in the Lagos Free Trade Zone initiated by the Tolaram Group will undoubtedly make Nigeria the preferred hub for shipping companies and related maritime businesses and activities in the sub-region. West and Central Africa. Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited has been awarded the 45-year concession by the Nigerian Ports Authority on a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) basis.
Under the agreement, LPLEL is required to develop, finance, build, operate and, at the end of the concession term, transfer the port to NPA. LPLEL will derive revenue from the operation of the port once it is completed; Lekki Port will have a total of 3 container berths, 1 dry bulk berth and 3 liquid berths. On April 21, 2011, LPLEL entered into a concession agreement with NPA for the rights to construct and operate the deep water port of Ibeju Lekki, Nigeria.
Economic Importance to Nigeria
Since the concept of developing deep sea ports has been gaining momentum across the world for decades, records have shown that development as economic infrastructure has tremendously positively influenced the growth of countries that have taken the initiative. A quick look at the economic history of Britain, the Netherlands and Singapore, reputed to be the maritime powers of the world, undoubtedly proves the important role these ports have played in the development of their economies. Moreover, in Bangladesh, an Asian country in the same economic belt as Nigeria, the establishment of a deep water port has become strategically very critical for the country given its potential impact on the development and economic growth of the country. .
As such, the development of the deep-sea port of Lekki heralds a game-changer for Nigeria’s economy and its maritime industry which has so far played a secondary role to ports in smaller West African countries. the West which are Togo, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Just as the port economy and macroeconomics are intertwined, the expected shifts in port traffic from congested Apapa and other nearby ports in the sub-region to the pair of deep water ports with the operations and organization of world-class deep-water port of Lekki will have a significant impact on the Nigerian economy particularly on the hinterland and facilitate the anticipated resumption of maritime trade between Nigeria and the countries of Chad and Niger, two countries that have kinda abandoned nigerian ports for sometimes.
170,000 new jobs
According to the company’s projections, ”Lekki Deep Sea Port will have a significant positive impact estimated at $361 billion on the terms of the concession. It should bring more than 200 billion dollars to the public treasury and create nearly 170,000 new jobs. Furthermore, Lekki Port will spur economic development around the Lekki sub-region and wider Lagos State through rapid industrialization.”
In terms of its macroeconomic impact, Lekki Port is expected to have a direct economic impact of 169,972 jobs to be created from port operations with around $20 billion to be spent on employee salaries while revenues from state agencies and Federal revenues from taxes, royalties and duties are estimated at approximately US$201 billion over the 45-year operating period.
Huge impact on the Nigerian economy
The catalytic economic impact will also result in a direct and induced impact on business revenues of $158 billion, while its qualitative impact on the manufacturing, trade and business services sector will see Lekki Port have a global impact. of approximately $361 billion on the Nigerian economy over the concession period, meaning the project will deliver a multiplier effect of over 230 times its total cost.
According to NPA Director General Bello-Kuku, the whole concept and design of the port makes it the darling of any importer and shipping company.
Kuku-Bello explained that the Lekki Deep Seaport with a draft of 17 meters, a quay length of 680 meters and a breakwater of 1,909 meters upon completion will have three berths for containers, a pier for its marine service for handling containers and liquid and dry bulk cargoes.
Features will eclipse all other ports in the sub-region
Stakeholders believe that the above features will eclipse all other ports in the sub-region and thus bring Nigeria back to its privileged position as a maritime hub, as the country already accounts for 70% of the cargoes that are shipped so far. in West and Central Africa.
Also corroborating Bello-Kuku, Chairman of Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited, Mr. Biodun Dabiri noted that “Today (July 1) is a historic event for us. It is a vision that was conceived 13 years ago. This event will begin to establish Nigeria as a regional hub for maritime affairs. These cranes will reinforce the port’s transformation activity in deep water. The draft of this sea is about 16.5 meters and the ship itself can only take about 14.5, the implication of this is that there is nowhere in this country this ship can dock. That’s what makes it historic. The port will be fully automated, it will be an efficient port that will transform maritime trade and make Nigeria a regional hub, whatever ingredient you will talk about in terms of the country’s GDP growth, is it currency diversification? Is it job creation? Does it add values to the lives and prosperity of people around the communities here? This is the whole purpose of this project. I thank the federal government. It will be a prelude to the grand finale before the end of the year.”
The first fully automated take-off port
Enthusiastic Bello-Kuku in his speech at the reception of the ZHEN HUA 28 ceremony affirmed that “For us at the NPA, the commissioning of Lekki symbolizes a lot of positives. Apart from being Nigeria’s first deep water port, Lekki Port will also be the first fully automated take-off port.