The much needed investment that will spore activities in the maritime sector that stakeholders have been yearning for is set to materialise as promoters of the Tomaro Industrial Park, which was last year granted Free Trade Zone, have commenced work in the free zone.
The entire project, which is estimated at $450 million (N162 billion) includes a ship fabrication yard, a modular refinery, access slipway, oil storage tank farms, water treatment plant, power generation plant, container lay down/transit, and crude oil distillation unit.
The promoter of the project and Chairman of Integrated Oil and Gas Company Limited, Capt Emmanuel Iheanacho disclosed this in a chat with journalists in Lagos.
Taking officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) led by Mr. Darki Hadia Yakubu and journalists round the facility, Iheanacho identified a number of businesses that are being planned at the free trade zone which will add a lot of value to the national economy in terms of industrialisation, employment and revenue generation.
Other projects lined up in the free zone, he stated, include a hanger for helicopters to operate from there and a five star hotel.
Iheanacho said in the next few months, the company will have some particular projects among those lined up to commission, adding that all hands were on deck to deliver on the mission of the free trade zone.
He said that so far a lot of investors have shown interest in investing in the project. According to him, some Chinese and British investors have shown interest in investing in the free trade zone project.
Iheanacho said what triggered off the attraction of investors was the level of seriousness demonstrated so far and the $800,000 grant received from the United State Government through the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to support the project.
Specifically, he explained that the grant was to finance the detailed analysis of supporting technologies and engineering for the implementation of the 20,000bpd crude oil refinery.
The free port zone is 75 hectares of land in between the Snake Island and the Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL) which are also enjoying free trade zone status.
Iheanacho explained that the plan for the shipyard is to start with ships of smaller sizes and later develop into a capacity to build bigger vessels.
Already, there is an ongoing construction work at the site which is for the oil storage tank farms.
President Muhammadu Buhari had last year officially announced Tomaro Industrial Park as part of the efforts to ensure the industrialisation of the nationâ€™s economy.
The Managing Director of the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Mr Emmanuel Jime while announcing the Presidentâ€™s approval said it was the way forward, adding that the structure of FTZ was a model for development.
He said that there were a number of incentives to have businesses sited in the Free Trade Zone.
According to him, â€œWe want to make Nigeria an attractive and preferred destination for business. And the mandate of NEPZA is to create an enabling environment for businesses so that they can find Nigeria a sure destination.â€