The federal government has expressed confidence that operations at the Lekki Deep seaport in Lagos State when completed would rake in over $200 billion. An optimistic President Muhammadu Buhari dropped this hint while speaking at the official commencement of the construction of the Lekki Deep seaport in Lagos. President Buhari said the project was in tandem with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) initiative of his administration. Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, President Buhari, who said Lekki Deep seaport when completed would become one of the largest deep water ports in the region and serve as a hub for port operations in West Africa, disclosed that the project was estimated to generate up to 170,000 direct and indirect jobs. “The promoters of this project are targeting about 1.5 million 20-foot equivalent units container capacity annually, which we expect to grow to about 2.7 million and 4.7 million TEUs when the project operations commence. “The promoters also planned to dredge the port channel to about 16 metres draft, which is not currently obtainable in any port in the country. This is an indication that ships of larger capacity, Panamax, Post Panamax ships and very large crude carriers will now be able to visit the port, and greater efficiency and economies of scale will generate significant revenue for Nigeria’s economy,” he said.
He however disclosed that the federal government had in the past two budgets provided an aggregate of N90 billion for the development of special economic zones, saying that the deep seaport project exemplified such economic zones. Also speaking, managing director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, stated that the NPA was committed to port development in the country. “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, which is 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. Of the 75 per cent owned by the Tolaram Group, however, the federal government holds a further 15 per cent shareholding to the value of $107.78 million converted into shares from a pre-2002 government grant to promoters of Tolaram Group toward financing the Viva Methanol Project. “As we work toward revamping the decaying port infrastructure we inherited and encouraging new investments in the sector, we are confident that projects such as this foretell the renewal possible in our port infrastructure, the resurgence of our economy through the gateways that our ports are and the creation of a modern, agile, technically competent and competitive workforce that will make our country proud,” she said.
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