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 Lagis, 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,” he said.
“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,” he said.
“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 added.
According to him, the volume of cargoes visiting the port is low at the moment, but stated that vessels are already using the ports.
In his words: “We have been having volumes, we have been having import discharge and export of empty containers and we expect that we would start export of full containers in the nearest future.
He, however, stated that 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 the Eastern Ports of Calabar, Warri, and Onitsha River Port among others to help increase the economy of those ports.
Dwelling on evacuation from the port, he added that the Lekki Port operates an automated system that is linked to the automated gate with the vehicle booking system where truck drivers are required to book appointments in advance.
“This also supports the initiative of the Lagos State Government with regards to the comprehensive call-up system for the Lagos Free Zone, Lekki Port, Dangote Free Zone, Dangote Refinery and the Pinnacle Oil and Gas.
“We are in active discussions with the Lagos State Ministry of Transport and other stakeholders on the deployment of the call-up system for the Lekki area and we have confidence that the coming onboard of the call-up system for trucks will address any concerns that prospective port users would have over access to the port,” he said.
Beyond the road, he said that Lekki Port is also 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.
He commended the efforts of the Federal Government and Lagos State Government in constructing the roads, which he said has improved significantly.
On his part, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko who was represented by the Manager, Public Affairs, 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.
He disclosed that the port is fully automated to eliminate human contacts and well equipped as some of the equipment seen in the terminal especially the ship-to-shore crane at the port is mostly seen in big ports in Dubai and Singapore.
He added that the Lekki Port can do a lot for Nigeria in terms of generating revenue worth billions of dollars and create thousands of jobs for Nigerians