Nigeria’s Lekki Deep Seaport is expected to begin operations by the first quarter of 2023 according to Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos State.
Mr Sanwo-Olu, speaking during a visit to the Lagos Free Zone on Friday, said the deadline had been made possible by rapid progress with construction work by China Harbour Engineering, a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company, Nigerian business website Nairametrics reports.
"Since we signed a loan agreement less than 18 months ago, we have demonstrated strong capability in bringing the project to reality. This is the first quarter of 2021 and we have seen the project reach about 48% completion. The investors have given us the commitment on first quarter of 2023 completion date. We will fulfil all our parts to make sure this date becomes reality."
The Lekki Port and free trade zone is part of Nigeria’s effort to capture regional trade in a region with strong growth potential but poor infrastructure. The trend for container ships to become ever larger and heavier has forced ports to compete with ever deeper navigation channels, longer wharves and more sophisticated cranage.
When complete, Lekki will be able to accommodate the top-rated "ultra large" ships able to transport more than 14,500 containers.
The deadline for completion is important because nearby countries are also working to complete ports, railways and economic zones. Other ports in the running are Tema in Ghana, Lomé in Togo, Abidjan II in CÃ´te d’Ivoire, Port du Futur in Senegal, Kribi in Cameroon and Badagry, also in Nigeria.
The port is being built on 90ha of the 830ha Lagos Free Zone, created in 2012 to stake Lagos’ claim to be the West African region’s premier manufacturing and logistics hub. Tolaram Group, a Singaporean company, is reported to be planning a $2bn investment in manufacturing and logistics facilities in the zone.
The first phase of the port, whose $1.5bn cost is being part-financed by a $629m loan from the China Development Bank, reports Nairmetrics.
Image: Sanwo-Olu during his visit to Lekki on Friday (Courtesy of Lekki Port)