The Lagos State Government says the investment of 629 million dollars by China Development Bank (CDB) on the Lekki Seaport project is a major milestone for infrastructure development in the state.
Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu said this on Wednesday in Lagos, while witnessing the signing of four agreements with China Development Bank (CDB).
Sanwo-Olu said in a statement that the agreement was another milestone for the state in commerce, as the signing had ended period of uncertainty that had trailed the delivery of the Lekki Seaport project.
He said the completion of the Lekki Seaport project would invigorate the Lagos economy and push it up in the index of largest economies in the world.
“This is a new beginning for us in Lagos. We have achieved another milestone in our efforts to transform the state and accomplish the 21st-century economy ambition.
“As a government, we are fully in support of the project. We will do all we can to ensure the terms of the agreements signed today are delivered within 30 months as agreed.
“We expect that the outcome will catalyse Lagos’ fifth-largest economy and take it up more in the index of largest economies in years to come,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The governor said that in the coming weeks, more trade agreements would be signed with foreign investors.
He said that his administration would continue to explore investments and partnerships that would accelerate growth and benefit residents of the state.
The 629 million dollars financing facility is to accelerate the completion of the Lekki Deep Seaport project, which started in 2011.
The loan was secured from the Chinese bank after China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), which owns majority shares in the project, signed a 45-year concessionary agreement with Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Ltd (LPLTZ) to complete the Phase 1 of the deep seaport project.
After completion, the deep seaport would have two container berths of 680-metre long and 16.5-metre water depth.
It will also have the capacity to be berthed by fifth-generation container ships, which has a capacity of 18,000 TEU ship.
The Chairman of Lekki Port Board of Directors, Mr Biodun Dabiri, said that the development of the seaport was strategic for the growth of Lekki Free Trade Zone.
Dabiri said that it would make an immense impact on the nation’s economy by creating more than 200,000 jobs.
He said that it would generate about 350 billion doll0ars in revenue for the state over the period of the concession.
“The loan represents a significant milestone, which when combined with foreign direct investment of 230 million dollars through equity injection by CHEC, will ensure successful delivery of the Lekki seaport.
“It will reposition Nigeria as the transhipment hub in sub-Saharan Africa upon the conclusion of the second phase.
“The project is strategic for the economic growth of Lekki Free Zone, as it would support the massive industrial and petrochemical complex being embarked on in the Northern and Southern quadrant of the zone with investment over the next three years peaking at over 20 billion dollars.
“With Lekki Airport in view, there will be an emergence of a Harbour City which would be internationally connected by air and also with world-class integrated transport network of roads, rail and bridges,” the chairman said.
Dabiri said the concessionary agreements had the support of both the federal and the Lagos governments.
He said that the investors agreed with the terms and conditions laid down by the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) and Lekki Worldwide Investment.
The CHEC chairman, Mr Lin Yichong, said that the Chinese engineering firm took interest to invest in the deep seaport to enable Nigeria to strengthen its maritime infrastructure and business.
Yichong said that it was the first deep seaport that would ease pressure at Tin-Can Island and Apapa ports.
He said that Phase 1 of the project would be built with an annual handling capacity of 1.2 million TEU, and the capacity would be increased to 2.5 million TEU upon the completion of the second phase.
“After the completion of the Lekki port, it would become the first deep seaport in Nigeria and the container transportation hub in Africa.
“In the course of the construction of the project, it is expected that a huge number of employment opportunities would be generated for residents of Lagos,” he said.
The CDB Deputy General Manager, Mr Zhang Aijun, said the bank approved the loan, given the strategic importance of the project to Lagos’ economic growth.
Aijun said that the bank considered the investment as the basis for expanding its business in Nigerian and contributing to the development of the nation.
The Managing Director of Tolaram Group in Africa, Mr Haresh Aswani, commended the Lagos State Government for supporting the project since the beginning.
Aswani said that the completion of the deep seaport would change the narrative of foreign partnerships with the government of Nigeria.
The signing of the four agreements was witnessed by the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, Consul General of China Embassy in Lagos, Mr Chu Maoming, and representatives of key stakeholders in the project.
Other agreements signed by the CDB, CHEC and LPLEL include Completion Agreement, Sponsor Support Agreement and Tripartite Keep Well Agreement. (NAN)