President Muhammadu Buhari has flagged off the construction of the Lekki Deep Seaport in Lagos, pledging that Government would give the needed support to the project.
Buhari who was represented by his vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said the project would become one of the largest sea ports in the region, and serve as a hub for port operations in the whole of West Africa.
According to him, the project, once completed, is designed to influence the generation of up to 170,000 direct and indirect jobs in the economy.
”It is a landmark project for several reasons — the promoters of this project are targeting, we are told, about 1.5 million TEUs (Twenty Equivalent Units) container capacity annually, which they expect to grow to about 2.7 million and 4.7 million TEUs when the project commences.
”With this feat, this sea port will become one of the largest in our region and serve as a hub for ports operations in the whole of West Africa.
”There is no question at all that the project will be the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa and possibly, the largest in Africa.’’
He said the project would involve the dredging of port channel to about 16metres draft, which is not currently obtainable in any sea port or any port for that matter in the country.
”This, in itself, is an indication that ships of larger sizes will now be able to visit the port, and greater efficiency and economies of scale will generate significant revenues for the Nigerian economy, with government earning a significant portion of it,” he said.
According to him, a second reason why it is a landmark event is with respect to the government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and its emphasis on supporting game changing infrastructure projects directed at making major impact on trade and commerce.
”We are developing the Lekki Special Economic Zone as a model special economic zone, specifically targeting exports. The development of this deep sea port is mission-critical to the achievement of the important objective of creating this special economic zone.
”So, the third reason is the commitment of our economic philosophy to private sector leadership of our economic development.’’
This project, which is private sector driven — the Toleram Group and China Harbour.
In his remarks, Mr Navin Nahata, CEO Lekki Sea Port, one of the promoters of the project, said that the project had demonstrated that Nigeria is an investment destination.
He promised to put in all efforts to deliver the project by 2020.