The Acting Director-General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Chidi Izuwah, says the Lekki Deep Water Port, once completed, will become a regional hub for port operations in West Africa.
Izuwah said this on the sidelines of the commission’s monitoring visit to the Lekki Deep Water Port on Saturday in Lagos to have an on-the-spot assessment of the ongoing project.
He said the project was expected to grow to about 4.5 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units container capacity annually upon its commencement, from the current 1.5 million target.
“With this feat, Lekki port will no doubt become one of the largest water ports in the region, and serve as a hub for port operations in the whole of West Africa,” Izuwah said.
He said the promoter, Lekki Port Enterprise Limited, also planned to dredge the port channel to about 16 metres draught, currently not obtainable in any seaport in the country.
Izuwah also said that was an indication that ships of large sizes would visit the port, and greater efficiency and lead economy of scale would drive and generate revenues for the economy with government earning a significant portion of it.
The ICRC boss, however, said the commission was worried that several years after the execution of the contract, the concessioner had yet to attain a financial close on the project as a result of certain contingent challenges.
According to him, the project promoters had earlier planned to attain financial close by second quarter, 2016 and commence full operations by second quarter, 2019, thereby giving a period of three years for the construction work.
Izuwah encouraged the promoters to do their best to ensure that the project comes on stream, saying the ICRC would continue to give its support toward the attainment of the objective.
He said: “We at the ICRC firmly believe that if all the parties to this contract demonstrate utmost commitment toward this project, the goals and wonderful picture painted above will become a reality in less then three years.
“I have said this, bearing in mind the enormous work which has already been done by the project promoters and the quantum of resources committed to this cause.
“I promise you that the ICRC under my leadership will go above and beyond the call of duty to assist you reach the financial close.”
Izuwah also said the commission was willing to join the promoters on focuses lender and investor roadshows to seek additional debt and equity capital and among others.
Izuwah said, “We will also play a key role in driving the creation of inter government and agency high impact team to solve some of the project’s immediate problems like high capacity’s evacuation route from the port site.
“This is to assure investors and lenders that all containers and goods arriving at the ports will be evacuated flawlessly and efficiently.
“We have gone too far on the project, so we can’t afford to fail or slow down.
“If we fail to lay a good foundation for the upcoming generation, not only will posterity hold us accountable, but you and I will not be able to sleep peacefully at night with our eyes closed.”
The ICRC is charged with the responsibility of monitoring and ensuring the efficient execution of all Public-Private Partnership projects entered into by MDAs on behalf of the Federal Government.
The concession agreement for Lekki Port was signed on April 21, 2011 by Nigerian Ports Authority, Lagos State Government and Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise.