BY Francis Ugwoke
The Managing Director of Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise, Mr. Haresh Aswani, has assured stakeholders that the deep seaport project in Lekki would be completed and operational in the first quarter of 2016 as planned.
Aswani allayed fears being raised in some quarters that the completion of the project may be delayed due to difficulty in finding financial institutions to fund the project.
But in a statement, he said funding has never been a problem, adding that massive construction work on the site will start in less than one month with the full completion of Environmental Impact Assessment study (EIA) and the World Bank guideline having been received.
Aswani explained that the Lekki Port, conceptualised as a multi-product industrial and logistics hub, would spread across 90 Hectares of land and shall be built at an estimated cost of $1.55 billion. He said, so far, the aggregate committed amount to date is $800million, while 33 out of 36 project permits have already been secured.
He said the deep-sea port, which will be located 65 km east of Lagos Mainland, is planned to become the gateway to West African region which would be one of the most efficient and modern maritime facilities that will cater to containerised, liquid and dry bulk cargo consignments.
“In addition to bridging the capacity deficit, Lekki Port will have significant positive macro-economic impact estimated at $361 billion over the entire concession period. It is expected to contribute more than $200 billion to the government exchequer while also creating close to 170,000 new jobs in the economy. Furthermore, Lekki Port will spur the economic development around the Lekki sub-region and on a wider perspective, the whole of Lagos State through rapid industrialisation”, he added.
He also disclosed that in a bid to ensure, smooth and efficient operations, Lekki Port has “engaged the services of leading global consultants in the mould of the Louis Berger Group Inc., Delta Marine Consultants, Berger ABAM and TBA Netherlands and the container terminal has been sub-concessioned to International Container Terminal Services, Inc, Philippines, a leader in the container terminal operations with footprint across the globe.
“The EPC construction contract has been issued on a turnkey basis to China Harbour Engineering Company which mobilised their men and machinery in August, 2012 and is already on the last lap of pre-construction investigations and site preparation activities”, he said.
He said the idea of Lekki Port has been conceptualised on the basis of a significant gap in projected demand and capacity needed to be met in conveying goods to and from Nigeria.
"It is however important to mention that demand is attractively high but the available capacity is not sufficient to meet this demand; that is why the economic viability of Lekki Port is founded on this un-met demand”, he said.
Aswani also pointed out that the strategic location, optimal layout and modern facilities provide Lekki Port a distinct competitive edge over any other port facility in the West African region.
The Lekki port boss noted that “the Lagos State Government’s and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)’s involvement as shareholders in this project, demonstrates both, their interest in the success of Lekki Port and their confidence in the Public-Private Partnership model, intended to bridge the gaps in the infrastructure domain which is pivotal to the overall growth of Nigeria's economy.
“Our commitment to ensuring that we meet the scheduled operational date has seen us spare nothing in achieving it and as at today, we are happy to confidently say that all market engineering and impact studies have been completed over the last 6 years, likewise the Lekki port site has been gazetted as port area by the federal government".
He also said it is pertinent to also note that the EIA has been fully completed with IFC/World Bank guideline.
“Container terminal sub-concession has been awarded to International Common User Terminal Operator (ICTSI) focusing on emerging markets after a tedious competitive bidding. Also, Shareholders agreement has been signed between the sponsors, NPA and the Lagos State Government. We are very much on course and in no distant time Nigerians, the entire West African region and Africa as a whole, would witness a revolution never seen before in the maritime sector”, Aswani said.
The major sponsor of the project, the Tolaram Group, parent company of Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise, is a Singapore based conglomerate operating in 6 countries across Asia, Europe and Africa for over 60 years and has being in Nigeria for more than 35 years. The group raked in over $800 million in 2012 and has 8,600 people of diverse nationalities in its employ.