Government earmarks N90b for special economic zones, to earn $200b from Lekki Deep Seaport

Nigerian Ports Authority assures of ports’ developmentThe Federal Government yesterday said that it had in the past two budgets provided an aggregate of N90 billion for the development of special economic zones.It said the Lekki Deep Seaport project is in line with the objectives of creating such economic zones.

Also, barring any unforeseen circumstances, Nigeria is expected to rake in over $200 billion from the operations of the deep seaport as President Muhammadu Buhari expressed commitment to a conducive-business environment that would aid investments.Buhari, who spoke yesterday during the flag-off of the construction of the Lekki Deep Seaport, represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said when completed, the project would generate up to 170,000 direct and indirect jobs in the economy.

Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, commended the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Tolaram Group and China Harbour for the development of the landmark project.Amaechi said: “This will be the first deep seaport in Nigeria. What we have had are river ports. This will help to improve the capacity of Nigerian ports with modern procedure.He said the ports concession agreement covered 45 years on a build, own, operate and transfer basis.

Meanwhile, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, has said that the vision of the NPA is to provide the enabling environment for Nigeria to have the best ports in Africa and the event moves the nation closer to that reality.

She said: “Funding for the Lekki Deep Sea Port project is structured at equity and debt ratio of 20:80 respectively. And in line with the commitment of the Federal Government to promote private sector investment, the NPA has a fully-paid five per cent minimal investment enough to give it a stake, to give the investors comfort and enable it perform its oversight technical regulatory functions without being unduly hindered by commercial considerations. The other 95 per cent interest is owned in 18:8 ratio by the Lagos State Government and the Tolaram Group respectively.

“As statutory regulators of ports in the country, the NPA is committed to providing the technical support and regulatory environment that would see to the timely completion of construction work and ensure efficient operations and management of the port upon commissioning.”

“We will work with all stakeholders to see the Lekki Deep Sea Port becomes a world class facility and an enviable edifice that can stand the test of time, become an institution that will be the pride of all stakeholders and encourage more of such investments in the country.”

Managing Director, Tolaram, Haresh Aswani, assured that the project would be completed within three years, and it would generate over $200 billion revenue for Lagos and Federal Government.He said the project would support and enhance the growth of various free zones in the area.

The Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, represented by his deputy, Idiat Oluranti Adebule, said “this port, which is expected to be delivered by 2020, will be one of the biggest in West African sub-region.“Lagos State government has a 20 per cent equity stake in the Lekki port project, and is an indication of the faith of the Lagos State government in the project,” he said.