The Lagos State Government on Wednesday signed a $629 million facility with China Development Bank (CDB) for the completion of Lekki Deep Seaport Project.
Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who signed on behalf of the state government, said that he $629 million financing facility would accelerate the completion of the Lekki Deep Seaport project, which started in 2011.
In a statement, Sanwo-Olu said that the signing of the agreement ended period of uncertainty that had trailed the delivery of the Lekki Seaport project.
He said that the completion of the project would invigorate 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 the outcome would 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 loan was secured after China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), which owns majority shares in the project, signed a 45-year concessionary agreement with Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited (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 berth fifth generation container ships, which has a capacity of 18,000 TEU ship.
Speaking at the occasion, 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 the project would make immense impact on the nation’s economy by creating more than 200,000 jobs and generate about $350 billion in revenue for the state over the period of the concession.
”The loan facility represents a significant milestone, which when combined with foreign direct investment of $230 million through equity injection by CHEC, will ensure a successful delivery of the seaport.
”It will reposition Nigeria as the transshipment 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.
”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.
According to him, the concessionary agreements had the support of both the Federal and Lagos governments.
Dabiri said that the investors agreed with the terms and conditions laid down by the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) and Lekki Worldwide Investment.
CHEC Chairman, Mr Lin Yichong, said that the Chinese engineering firm decided to invest in the deep seaport to enable Nigeria strengthen its maritime infrastructure and business.
Yichong said that it was the first deep seaport that would ease pressure on Tin-Can Island and Apapa ports.
He said that the Phase 1 of the project would be built with annual handling capacity of 1.2 million TEU, which 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.
CDB Deputy General Manager, Mr Zhang Aijun, said the bank approved the loan facility, given the strategic importance of the project to Lagos’ economic growth.
Aijun said that the bank considered the investment as basis for expanding its business in Nigeria and contributing to the development of the nation.
Managing Director of Tolaram Group in Africa, Mr Haresh Aswani, commended Lagos Government for supporting the project since the beginning.
Aswani said that the completion of the deep seaport would change 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 Chinese 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)