The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has directed its legal department to put on paper an agreement with the Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Ltd., to ensure 2022 as operational year of the port. Amaechi gave the directive during a monitoring visit to the Lekki Deep Sea Port Project on Sunday in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Lekki Deep Sea Port project is Nigeria’s Deepest Sea Port in the making in the heart of the Lagos Free Trade Zone.

According to him, the agreement to commission the port in 2022 took place in Singapore, and wondered why the construction company was stating 2023.

He said that though they have had hitches including the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown, but it was important that the project becomes operational by 2022.

“The contract for the facility was launched in March 2018, and as a layman, my views might not matter, however, we must tie them to a written agreement that it must be commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2022. “There are so many things tied to a port construction and many factors that can work against that date like force majeure issues or if anything goes wrong with the contractor.

“That is why we need to tie them to a verbal and written agreement that by 2022, Lekki port must become operational,” the minister said.

He also said that with Lekki, Bonny and Ibom deep seaport, all are expected to come up stream very soon, adding that the issue of too many river ports with shallow draft would become a thing of the past in Nigeria’s maritime sector.

‘Amaechi, however, declined to speak on the Lekki Port being connected by rail by 2022,

” I am not the Minister of Works, neither am I the Lagos State Government, so whether there will be rail connection to Lekki port by 2022 is not what I can talk on,” he said.

The port is poised to be the most modern in West Africa, offering critical support to burgeoning commercial operation in Lagos state, across Nigeria and the entire West African region.

Presently, the port has a 35 per cent progress across the project construction.

The Lekki Deep Seaport was widely acclaimed to be the saviour of the maritime industry when the government announced its construction in 2013. Touted as the first deep seaport in West Africa, it was scheduled to debut in 2016 but has stalled as a result of financial constraints.

Interestingly, Hadiza Bala Usman, managing director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had claimed that it would take two years to build the port. Nevertheless, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has intensified efforts to accelerate the completion of the project. He signed a contract with China Development Bank (CDB) for a $629 million financing facility to speed up the construction and complete it in 30 months.

Early this year, Steven Heukelom, the technical director of Lekki Port Enterprises Limited, disclosed that the $1.65 billion Lekki Port should commence operations by 2022.

One thing to note though is that Lekki, where the seaport is located, has only one narrow road ‘Akodo Road’ which connects the facility and several other industries.

Already, the influx of people into new towns springing up daily on the Lekki-Epe corridor has increased the number of vehicles on the road, leading to constant traffic congestion.

Upon completion, it would serve as an important alternative for easing the Lagos port congestion. But a lack of infrastructure such as rail and well-structured link roads, coupled with policies that would enforce efficiency could continue to threaten the success of the country’s maritime industry.