The promoters of the Lekki Port and Lekki Freeport Terminal have stated that the $1.5 billion Lekki port would begin transshipment of cargoes in the coming weeks, noting that the move would see Nigeria wrest lost cargoes from its neighbouring West African countries.
Chief Commercial Officer of Lekki Freeport Terminal, Kehinde Olubi-Neye who stated this during a chat with newsmen in Lagos, explained that to fast track cargo clearance and movements in and around the ports, approximately $100 million was invested in port equipment, assuring that the port has the technical capacity, draft and state-of-the-art equipment to recover transship cargoes bound for landlocked countries.
“The opportunity is to explore transshipment of cargoes to other regional countries in Africa. We are in the process of transshipment with the support of Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) and when the first transhipment vessel arrives in the coming weeks.
“The Lekki Freeport Terminal has discussed with stakeholders including Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and they are confident that recovering transshipment cargoes not just for the hinterland but also for landlocked countries and other regional countries will be back in the country.
“We are here to connect global maritime trade into Nigeria and that is why we have the deepest draft here. We do not have this draft anywhere else in Lagos and arguably, in some of the West African countries as well. We are not here to compete with other ports but to render services to the Nigerian people,” he said.
According to him, the volume of cargoes coming into the port is low at the moment, but vessels are already using the ports.
He said the port has also seen the opportunity to play a role in the uptake of cargo in the eastern ports, which is why they are currently having discussions on moving containers discharged at Lekki Port by barge to Calabar, Warri, and Onitsha River Port among others to help increase the economy of those ports.
He said the port is exploring the possibility of moving cargo by barges and has been able to execute more than five barge moves of over 900 twenty-foot equivalent units of containers (TEUs) from Lekki Port to the Ikorodu area of Lagos.
He further hinted that the port has completed a truck park very close to the port that has capacity to accommodate 150 trucks.
On his part, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko who was represented by Manager, Public Affairs of NPA, Ikechukwu Onyemakara, described Lekki Port as a Nigerian project and assured that the NPA would do everything within it powers to grant necessary approvals and provide marine services to the port.
Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of Lekki Freeport Terminal, Yann Magarian, said the Lekki Port would shape the maritime economy of the country and called on Nigerians to embrace and promote the port.