Lekki Deep seaport: FG targets $360bn investment, as Buhari unveils largest rice mill in Africa

R-L: Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu; President Muhammadu Buhari and Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Saheed Shotobi during the commissioning of the Lagos Rice Mill in Imota, on Monday, 23 January, 2023

…$360bn investment avenue for economic vitality, employment opportunities – NIMASA

…We are ready for standard regulations — NPA, Shippers Council

By Moses Adeniyi

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday was received in Lagos by his host, Lagos State Governor, Mr, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to commission two multibillion Naira projects.

The duo projects commissioned are the long awaited Lekki Deep Sea Port and the 32 metric tons per hour Imota Rice Mill.

Joining Governor Sanwo-Olu and President Muhammadu Buhari for the commissioning of the iconic projects were dignitaries including Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun; former Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi; former Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun; Minister of Transportation, Mu’aza Jaji Sambo; among others.

No less than $360 billion has been estimated to be attracted by the Lekki Deep Sea Port.

Speaking at the Commissioning site of the Lekki Sea Port, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu said Lagos State seats as the “Chair of the project” which is “a total combination of investment of the Federal Government, Lagos State Government and the private sector,” stating it was a delight the commissioning was happening during the regime of Buhari under which the project execution commenced.

Stating that the multi-billion Naira project is the biggest in the Subsaharan Africa, Sanwo-Olu noted that the Port which is four times larger in capacity than the existing ones of Apapa and Tincan, would “generate thousands of direct and hundreds of thousands of indirect jobs in Nigeria.”

“The operator for this project is one of the biggest in the world. The size of the vessels that would be coming in here, would be four times, those of both Tincan and Apapa Ports.

“It’s a big massive infrastructure and we are excited that in your time (Buhari’s administration), something fresh has been birth to this Country.

“It is going to generate thousands and thousands of jobs directly and hundreds of thousands of jobs indirectly in the entire ecosystem. Various stakeholders have worked tirelessly to bring about the compleion,” Sanwo-Olu said.

“We are indeed excited that the project execution started during your regime and it is now completed during your tenure,” he added.

He appreciated the local dwellers of the surrounding community in Lekki for the understanding displayed on what he described as the “real investment coming to their corridor.”

The Ambassador of the Chinese government to Nigeria, Mr. Cui Jianchun described the project as an “engine of economy for not only Lagos but Nigeria.”

He said it is a real investment that would generate revenue and taxes for Lagos and Nigeria, stating that it is setting very good examples including four nationals.

Lekki Deep Sea Port is a multipurpose deep sea port at the heart of Lagos Free Zone. Lekki Port is poised to be most modern and deepest seaport in West Africa, offering critical support to burgeoning commercial operations in Lagos State, across Nigeria and the entire West region.

The Port is designed and expected to operate in line with global standards and world-class facilities.

Phase 1 of the multipurpose Port covers an area of 50 hectares, with two container berths and a total capacity of 1.2million TEUs annually. The approach channel is about 11km long and 16.5m deep. The main breakwater is 1.9km long and will accommodate a corridor liquid transport to and fro the liquid berths.

The Lekki Port LFTZ is a venture enterprise owned by a group of investors led by the Lekki Port Investment Holdings Inc. comprising China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd and Toleram), the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government through the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

The shareholding structure of the Port comprises Lekki Port Investment Holding Inc. (International consortium) which owns 75 per cent (China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd, 52.50per cent; Tolaram 22.5 per cent), the Lagos State Government owns 20 per cent, while the Federal Government through NPA owns 5 per cent.

LPLEL is incorporated under the Companies & Allied Matters Act and licenced by the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority to operate in the Lagos Free Zone expected to open a host of benefits for Lekki Port regarding taxes, duties and tour incentives.

Lekki Deep Sea Port is “game changer” – Experts

The Managing Director/CEO of Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited, Mr. Du Ruogang, speaking on the Port said work has been ongoing tirelessly to ensure the iconic project comes into full operation in the 1st Quarter this year.

He appreciated the support  received from all sides, including Sanwo-Olu, Buhari, the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government respectively, shareholders, and other stakeholders.

Chairman, China Habour Engineering Company Ltd, Mr. Tang Qiaoliang  said research, industry leading strategies and essential technology have been for the operation of the Port.

He said he looked forward to stronger partnership in infrastructure development to build better synergy between the Nigerian and Chinese government to serve the Nigerian people.

Chairman, Tolaram, Mr. Mohan Vaswani, said the project “is an important milestone for Nigeria,” saying “the significant milestone will increase the economic well being of Nigerians and the people and that is the most important thing.”

He said although the journey has been challenging since approval of the Port during the former president Obasanjo administration, the project has reached a feat of commendable height, appreciating the Sanwo-Olu-led Lagos State Government and the Buhari-led Federal Government.

The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, said the commissioning of the Port “is a dream come through,” mentioning that as the deepest Sea Port in Nigeria, it will bring in economics of scales, and serve as employment model for upcoming deep sea ports in Nigeria.

Appreciating President Buhari, Ministry of Transportation and other stakeholders, he said though the Port has been on the drawing board for over 10 years, construction started about three years ago with robust commitment by the present administration.

“Lekki Deep Sea Port for us is just the beginning,” he said, saying that NPA would be the regulator, and has already been receiving interest for moving of vessels in the Deep Sea Port.

The Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamor, said the Port is important and an “emergence of one of the best Port not only in West Africa, but in Africa.”

He said the feat is a development in shipping for the development of the Nigerian Maritime sector for the growth of the Nigerian economy.

According to him, the Port is projected to inject N360billion investment into the Nigerian economy with huge employment opportunities.

The Executive Secretary, Nigeria Shippers Council, Emmanuel Jime said the Port is a “game changer in the Nigerian Maritime space” to deliver on the needs of the people, adding it “represent a dynamic change as far as the Maritime domain is concerned.”

According to him, it would facilitate  conducting business seamlessly, with reduction in “the cost of doing business at the lowest ever.”

He said the Council would ensure proper monitoring for best standards.

Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Co-operatives, Lagos, Dr. Lola Akande said the idea of the Port was conceptualised in 2006 by the Bola Tinubu’s administration in Lagos, mentioning that the vision became a reality and the “project no doubt would complement existing port infrastructures in Lagos and in Nigeria.”

She added that the Port would strengthen the preferred status of Lagos as the hub of investment in Africa.

The Onilekki of Lekki, Oba Olumuyiwa Ogunbekun, appreciated the State Government for what he said “was serious development of the economy in Lagos,” recognising the role of Tinubu in laying the foundation to open up the axis for economic development of the State and the Country.

He said the community would continue to cooperate with the Government and all relevant stakeholders.

The 32 metric tons Imota Rice Mill which was also commissioned by President Buhari is 22 hectares large, with the mill itself occupying 8.5 hectares.

On full operation, it would be the largest mill in Africa and the third largest mill in the world. The rice mill has a capacity to produce 2.8 million bags of 50kg bags of rice yearly, while generating over 1,500 direct jobs and 254,000 indirect jobs.

With the installed infrastructure of the facility, the production capacity of the rice mill in Imota will set it among the largest in the world, and the largest in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is an integrated mill with two warehouses and 16 silos (each with a capacity of 2,500 tonnes, 25 metres high, 40-year life).

The mill operates in two lines that receive, pre-clean, boil, dry, sort, hull, polish and bag the rice.