Allegations leveled against the Federal Government by Lagos Governor, Babatunde Fashola over the fate of the Lekki Deep Seaport project is false after all.
Twice this year, Fashola had accused President Goodluck Jonathan-led Federal Government of failure to pay its counterpart fund of $117 million towards the actualization of the project.
But promoters of the project yesterday put a lie to the Governor’s allegation as the company stated categorically that the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had been faithful in its equity contribution towards building the port.
“NPA is a regulator and equity partner in the project. The equity part of Lagos State has been fully paid and the NPA is contributing their equity,” Managing Director of Lekki Deep Seaport, Haresh Ascoani said yesterday during a visit by the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mallam Habib Abdullahi to the facility.
Ascoani said the deep seaport project would transform the Lekki Free Trade Zone into a new industrial city in Nigeria when it becomes operational.
Corroborating his host’s assertion, Abdulahi described Fashola’s allegation as untrue.
“The total amount of our equity is $118million and as at last year, we have paid about N1b and for 2015, we are making effort to pay up what is due to us and I cannot say anything because it is still with the Senate. But we have made arrangements with the group that we will pay accordingly until the end of the year,” he said.
Abdullahi said the Federal Government was committed to the actualization of the project because it would bring benefits to the Nigerian economy and make Nigeria a hub port in West Africa.
“We will do all we can with the help of the Federal Government to ensure that Nigeria becomes a hub in port related activities. Not only your port but your port will be the driving force. It is going to be a hub not only in Nigeria but also in the West African sub-region. The port will drive the economy; promote investment, employment and also exportation.
“In the next few years, the port will benefit not only Lagos but also other states and I know it will ginger up investors in other locations I have mentioned to come in to invest,” Abdullahi said.
On the expected benefits of the project, the Lekki Port Managing Director, Ascoani said: “The Lekki Deep Seaport would be the deepest seaport in West Africa and the second in Africa after the South Africa deep port.
“The port will drive Nigeria’s economy, create jobs and attract investment worth over $25b to the zone.
“The port will be a game changer. It will be a catalyst for the new industrial city in Nigeria. We believe in the next 10 years, with the level of investment that will come up in this region, it will exceed $25billion with the port being the key catalyst for the development of the zone.”
Ascoani said China Construction Company would commence the construction of the port by April this year. He also disclosed that the promoters of the port, Tolaram Group were working with the Lagos State Government and the Federal Ministry of Works on how to build additional roads that would ease traffic in the area when the port becomes operational.
The project, he said will offer robust returns to lenders and equity investors.
He listed Africa Development Bank, European Investment Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Rand Merchant Bank, Stanbic IBTC and Africa Finance Corporation as the banks supporting the project.
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