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Hopes For Completion Of Construction Work Of The $1.6 Billion Lekki Deep-Sea port project Brightens

By Stephen Ubanna

Hopes of Completion of construction of the $1.5billion Lekki deep-sea port project started in 2017 as a gateway for  for Containerised vessels  of up to 8,000, 20ft equivalent units, TEUs, dry and liquid  bulk cargo vessels, in a contract awarded  to the Lekki Port Enterprises Limited, LFTZ by the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, appears to have brightened.

 LFTZ, whic is a joint venture of Tolaram Group, which owns 75%, Lagos state government, 20% and NPA,  which owns 5%. It was said to have also engaged the services of  Louis Berger, a US, based Company  to serve as the Project Management Consultant. The scope of the contract includes design, construction and Commissioning of all the marine and land landslide facilities.

  Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, a former Managing Director of NPA, was said to have supervised the award of the Contract to LFTZ, which was said to have signed a 45-year Concession agreement with the Authority in April 2011,to  Build, Own, Operate and Transfer, BOOT, the project to the Authority based   on the NPA Act, of 2004. The Company had molbilised on site barely six years of signing the Contract with NPA.

The Lekki deep seaport project, according to informed maritime sources  is believed to be one of the largest   private sector investment  in the nation’s maritime sector developed  on non-recourse  project finance basis with majority of the financing  for the project being sourced internationally, Particular, from the state owned, China Development Bank .

Given that much of the funds for the project are being raised from China Development Bank, may have informed why  China Harbour Engineering Enterprise, CHELE, a subsidiary of  China Harbour Engineering Company, CHEC,  was contracted, to take up the job of the design, construction  of the marine and Landslide infrastructure for the Container  terminal and other utilities. Already, CMA and GCM, Shipping Line , had signed  a Memorandum of Agreement with Lekki Prt Enterprises, LPE,  in April 2018, barely one year after mmobilising on site to start the Construction work on the deep-sea port terminal.

Appearing on the 90 hatres of land project site on Saturday, July 10,2021, Rotimi Amaechi, minister of Transportation, who was said to have been accompanied by Mohammed Bekllo-Koko, the acting Managing Director of NPA, Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and Emmanuel Jime, Executive Secretary, Nigerian shippers  Council, NSC,  and other  top officials of the ministry, to assess the  level of progress of work recorded ,was said to have been satisfied that the contractor handling the project is working according to plan in order to deliver on schedule.

Amaechi: Minister of Transportation

Abiodun Dabiri,  the Chairman of  the Lekki Deep seaport Enterprises limited, LFTZ, may have seen the ministerial visit as an opportunity to give him a low down on the progress of work  and to reassure him that the Lekki deep0seaport terminal would commence operation on the fourth quarter of 2022.

  Dabri, the LFTZ, Chairman, was said to have told the minister and his entourage that the ‘’dredging  and reclamation  of work  of the port had reached 67.49%, while the landslide  infrastructural development has reached 33.70% completion’’ and the Quay Wall has reached  50.39% .  Dabiri, FLTZ, Chairman, may have gladdened the heart of Amaechi the Transportation minister, NPA, NIMASA and NSC, officials as well as other key officials of the ministry, when he gave his words that at the end of the third quarter of 2022, the construction work on the $1.6 billion would be complete while Commercial operations will commence on the fourth quarter as planned.

 Amaechi, who could not hide his feelings,  however, would want  LFTZ, which had won the Concession for the Lekki deep seaport project would not want the Company  to allow it drag the Completion of the construction  work for the project to drag into the fourth quarter of 2022. Appealing to the Company to ensure  that  that the port become operational by mid 20222 he noted that the government could no longer wait  to start earning the expected revenue from the facility and open it up for creation of job opportunities for the people.

Many believe that officials of the  LFTZ, may have been forced to fast track the work on the multi-dollar project, because of the ministerial support that was said to have been provided to the Company over the last four years  in order to deliver on the mandate for the world-class deep- seaport expected to  work with the best in-class equipment  that would ensure a seamless operations that would comply  with global environmental protection  standard.

Amaechi And His Agencies CEOs At Leeki Deep Seaport Project Site

The ministerial support for the Completion of the multi-million dollar Lekki dee-seaport project, may not be unconnected to the 70,000 indirect and direct jobs that are likely to be created. This is in addition to the anicipated annual $158 billion revenue that the Lagos government,  NPA, and other government agencies, including the Federal  Inland Revenue Service, FRS, would earn  through  taxes, duties and royalties.  It is being speculated that the Lekki deep-sea project will contribute an aggregate of $361 billion to the nation’s economy on a yearly basis when it fully Commence operations in the fourth quarter of 20222, as planned by the Company.

Describing it as the first and the deepest  seaport to be constructed  in the sub-saharan African  region,   it is expected  have other facilities such as  a 60km and 14.5km –deep approach channel, quay wall, cargo handling cranes and three  19-metres liquid Jetties. Dabiri, the LFTZ, Chairman, disclosed   that when completed‘’it would serve  as a transshipment hub in the region’’.

Given that the multi-million Lekki-deep seaport  project is under the supervision of NPA,  Bello-Koko, the Authority Managing  was said to assured the minister that the agency would do everything within his powers ‘’to  ensure the smooth   take off of the port operations upon Completion of Construction by LFTZ.

 He noted that that the Authority  has already commenced the process of acquiring  all the necessary  marine equipment  including  tug and mooring boats  to service the deep sea boats that might be calling at the port with their Containerised vessels and other dry and liquid bulk cargo vessels.

Jamoh: DG, NIMASA, Champions Badagry Deep Seaport Project

The speed at which LFTZ,  is working on the Leeki deep seaport project,  may encourage Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General, to work on  the ministry of Trade and Investment, Lagos state government,  as well as  a Private  consortium  of APM Terminals, Orlean Investment , Oando, Terminal Investment Limited, TIL, and Macquarie, to rekindle their interest on the  Badagry deep seaport project  proposed  to be about   about 620 hectares  of dedicated port facilities.

 The Badagry deep-seaport, which may not be different from the Lekki project is also expected to have   Container Handling facilities, dry bulk, liquid bulk, rollo n-roll off and general cargo facilities,including oil and gas operation support facilities also have a 480 hectares  of industrial  and Logistic  Park Zone.

Jamoh, may have reechoed what Dibiri, the Chairman, of LFTZ, had said about the Lekki deep seaport project, in 2020, over the Badagry deep seaport, which is the second to be conceived and built in Lagos state alone, when he visited De-Wheno Aholu Menu Toyi 1, the AKran Of Badagry, that ‘’it  is a strategic step towards  the development of the country as a global maritime hub’’.

Stephen Ubanna

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