The federal government has targeted the fourth quarter of 2022 for the completion of the construction and commencement of commercial operation of the $6 billion Lekki Deep Seaport.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi stated this yesterday while addressing journalists during on-the-spot-inspection of the facility.
The minister directed the contractor of the Deep Seaport to ensure that commercial activities take off not later than end of 2022.
According to him, "It was in March 2018 that the contract talks for this facility commenced. Yes, they have had glitches, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and a lockdown, but it is important that this project becomes operational by 2022.
"Am I impressed by the pace of work? As a layman, my views might not matter. However, we must tie them to a written agreement that it must be commissioned by Mr. President in 2022.
"There are so many things tied to a port construction. As a layman, I might not be able to say categorically that by 2022, Lekki port will be operational. There are so many factors that could work against that date like force majeure issues or if anything goes wrong with the contractor. That is why we need to tie them to a verbal and written agreement that by 2022, Lekki port must become operational," he said.
Amaechi added that with Lekki, Bonny and Ibom deep seaports, all expected to come on stream very soon, the issue of too many river ports with shallow draft will become a thing of the past in Nigeria's maritime sector.
Earlier, the minister, while touring sections of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) head office building burnt by hoodlums expressed shock at the level of destruction carried out on the agency's headquarters by unknown persons.
"I have made decisions that with the level of damage done here, NPA should be able to come forward to cabinet to ask for the reconstruction depending on integrity. The damage is disastrous. No matter how you want to vent your anger over police brutality, you don't need to destroy people's property.
"I was once a student, and we never took laws into our hands even when we were protesting. If you remember in 1983, during the time of Major General Buhari and Babagida, we were always on the street as students. We never took laws into our hands and we never destroyed public property.
"During the time of Tai Solarin, there was a national protest that we partook in, and we never took laws into our hands. It is legitimate to protest, but it is illegitimate to hide under the guise of protest to destroy public property," he said.
He said under Nigerian laws, it is legitimate to protest but added that the law does not allow for the burning of property or closing highways because there are other road users who want to use the highways.
"I think this should not just end here because if some people are not punished, some others might want to repeat it in future," he added.