President Muhammadu Buhari, has finally commissioned the $1.5billion Lekki deep seaport for commercial operation.
Construction of the port started on June 15, 2020, and was completed on Monday, October 24, 2022.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the deep seaport which was the first fully automated and digitalised port in Nigeria, would generate over $361 billion into the Nigerian economy as well $201billion in revenue to federal, state government agencies from taxes, royalties and duties.
Also, aside providing over 200,000 jobs opportunities for Nigerians, the port would also improve turnaround time for cargo handling and clearance as well as effectively lower cost of imports.
Speaking after Mr. President unveiled the Lekki Deep Sea Port, the governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, described the project as the biggest infrastructure in the whole of West Africa, saying it would generate thousands direct and indirect jobs in the country.
This was just as he stated that the multi- billion naira project is a collaboration between the Federal Government and Lagos State government as well as the private stakeholders.
He expressed joy that the execution of the project which took off under Buhari's administration was completed during his tenure.
"We are indeed excited that the project execution started during your regime and it is now completed during your tenure."
"At this port, a vessel will bring what four vessels will discharge at Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports. It is a big infrastructure that will generate thousand of direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians."
He, therefore, thanked Mr. President for his commitment to development of the country and appreciated all those contributed immensely to bringing the project to reality.
Speaking earlier, the managing director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, said that having a depth of 16.5 metres will enable bigger vessels and more cargos to come into the port with economies of scale, which will bring down the cost of doing business in Lekki Port.
According to him, the port will not only create employment but will be more efficient than other ports in Nigeria and a model for port development in Nigeria.
He said that the NPA will be the regulator and had acquired the equipment needed for the provision of marine services for safe berthing of vessels at Lekki.
"We already have interest from a certain neighbouring African country that wants to move its cargoes from Lekki Port through Dala Inland Dry Port in Kano to the the African country because the country has seen the possibility of smooth operations and efficiency at Lekki Port, " he added.
Similarly, the director general, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, stated that the port is not only one of the very best in the sub-region but also in the continent.
Jamoh said the port with an investment of $361 billion and employment opportunity for about 200,000 Nigerians.
Jamoh further stated that Maritime industry is one sector that can be harnessed to solve the nation's economic problems.
Jamoh said, "I am the happiest person and that has to do with development of shipping. Today we are seeing the emergence of one of the best ports not only in West Africa but in Africa.
"Today, Nigeria is experiencing a lot of issues that has to do with our economy and from time to time we keep saying that the maritime industry is one of the best sector apart from oil and gas to pursue the development of nation's economy."
On his part, the executive secretary, Nigerian Shippers' Council (NSC), Hon. Emmanuel Jime, disclosed that the Lekki Deep Seaport was a first of its kind port in Nigeria that is fully automated digitalised.
According to him, the Lekki deep seaports represent a dynamic change as far as the maritime domain in the nation is concerned.
He said, "Lekki deep seaports represent a dynamic change as far as the maritime domain in our nation is concerned, the port is fully automated, digitalised and the implication for all of that is that the port will serve not only deligently but, as a port that will ensure business are done seamlessly and the cost of doing business in this port will be the lowest ever."
"Lekki Deep Seaport be careful and watch out because Shippers' Council is coming, we will monitor every single efficiency, quality and indeed the kind of services delivered in the port," he stated
Earlier, the chairman of Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited, Biodun Dabiri, said the project would make economy of Lekki environs to worth N10billion.
He said, "From what I can see, in the next four to five years, the economy of the Lekki environs would be worth $25 billion which translates to N10 trillion - an investment amount almost similar to the whole budget of Nigeria."
"I can tell you that if we focus on this axis alone, the ranking of Lagos as one of the largest economies in Africa would be better; we could move from the 4th to 3rd, 2nd and eventually Number one."