In a statement addressed to the media in Lagos, Laurence Smith, chief operating officer of the Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited (LPLEL), stated that preliminary talks had begun with three prospective operators of the liquid berth terminals. This appears to follow on the heels of the first phase of the Lekki Deep Seaport’s construction being successfully completed. He stressed the importance of the liquid bulk terminal to the upcoming development of the port’s Stage Two.
According to Smith, the first phase of the deep seaport would begin full commercial operation by the end of the first quarter of 2023. Prior to this, trial operations will be conducted after the Lekki Free Port Terminal has completed the installation of the requisite equipment and infrastructure. He indicated that the port is anticipating the arrival of scanning machines by the month of February 2023, which would be used for the examination of customs service cargo.
Lagos State had begun building access roads leading to the port.
Daniel Odibe, the deputy chief operating officer of Lekki Port, said in his statement that the federal government had authorized the connection of Lekki Port to the proposed coastal rail line for effective cargo evacuation. As part of an attempt to guarantee unimpeded freight transportation and prevent congestion around the port, it is speculated that the coastal rail would link the port through the Ijebu-Ode axis. Odibe has said that the projected rail link to the port, when completed, would help with freight evacuation in addition to the road and barges.
Moreover, it has also been estimated that the distance between the Lekki Port and Ijebu-Ode is around 50 kilometers, while the distance between Ijebu-Ode and the Ibadan rail line is roughly 70 kilometers. In addition, Odibe said that the government of Lagos State had begun the building of access roads leading to the port. He urged for more funding for infrastructure improvement in order to facilitate the unhindered flow of goods from the port.
Preparations are ongoing for the port’s formal commission.
Odibe added the port management is close to completing preparations for the installation of two automated scanners at the port in order to expedite cargo assessment are nearing completion. These scanners are scheduled to arrive in Nigeria in February 2023. They will be drive-through devices that have the capacity to scan containers in 33 seconds. This will reduce the challenges that are involved with physically inspecting goods at the port, as mentioned by him.
According to Du Ruogang, managing director of LPLEL, the company is making final preparations for the port’s formal commissioning by President Muhammadu Buhari, following which full commercial operations may begin. He said that Lekki Free Port Terminal (LFT), the terminal operator, is making preparations to provide a first-rate port service. Further, all the appropriate departments have been briefed on their responsibilities at the new port and given the information they need to fulfil them effectively.
There was a call for more infrastructural support.
He also commended the federal government through the Ministry of Transportation as well as the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for their roles in making the port a reality. There was a call for more outstanding support in the area of infrastructure development during the meeting to facilitate the smooth exit of goods from the port since the Lagos State government had already begun building access roads leading to the port.