By G9ija

Commercial operations at the Lekki Deep Seaport in Lagos Free Zone will begin in the first quarter of 2023, the frontline investor handling the project, Tolaram Group, assured Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Friday.

According to a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Gboyega Akosile, titled ‘Lekki deep seaport begins operations in 2023, investor assures Lagos govt’, the first phase of the seaport project is at 48 per cent completion.

The port, which is being financed by $629m facility from China Development Bank, is occupying 90 hectares in the entire 830 hectares of land carved out for the Lagos Free Zone, created in 2012 to enhance economic position of Lagos as manufacturing and logistics hub in West Africa.

On a two-day working tour of the three free trade zone established in Ibeju Lekki area

Sanwo-Olu said his administration remained committed to delivering the project, stressing that the deep seaport and other investments happening in the corridor had the potential to increase the state’s Gross Domestic Product in multiple folds.

He said, “Since we signed a loan agreement less than 18 months ago, we have demonstrated strong capability in bringing the project to reality. This is the first quarter of 2021 and we have seen the project in about 48 per cent completion.

“The investors have given us the commitment on first quarter of 2023 completion date. We will fulfil all our parts to make sure this date becomes a reality.”

He also stated that the size of the deep seaport would allow 18,000 TEU capacity vessels, which are four times bigger than the ones berthing at Apapa seaports, thereby scaling down the cost of container transportation from any part of the world.

The governor said, “For us a government, this is the strongest point we have made with the project. I am fully convinced that the delivery of this project will transform commercial architecture of West Africa and bring about quick turnaround time in maritime sector.

“When it is completed, the deep seaport is expected to generate more than 170,000 direct and indirect job opportunities for Lagos residents, and serve as alternative in an effort to decongest the Federal Government-owned seaports in Apapa.”

Chief Executive Officer of Lagos Free Zone, Dinesh Rathi, said the Tolaram Group initiated a $2bn investment in the Lagos Free Zone, out of which the investor committed $950m to developing manufacturing hub in the zone.