To maximize the benefits of the Lekki Deep-Sea Port and sustain the advantages that it has heralded, there is a need to learn from the experiences of countries like China which have successfully built, ran, and effectively managed preemptively prospective challenges associated with smart deep seaports.
This was stated in a communique at a Webinar organized by Olisa Agbakoba Legal on the theme: “Lekki Deep Sea Port: The Issues and Prospects for the Nigerian Economy”
The event had in attendance Key players in the Maritime sector, Legal Practitioners, the Federal Ministry of Transport, Lagos State Water-Ways Authority, Lekki FTZ Enterprise Ltd(Lekki Deep Sea Port), Nigerian Chamber of Shipping as well as Nigeria Ports Authority and the General Public.
The speakers, according to the communique released by the Associate Partner and Head of Maritime Group, Olisa Agbakoba Legal, Chinedu Nneke, observed that the Colonial Government that built in 1913, the Apapa Quays Port and the Tin Can Island Port (built in 1976) was intended for the heavy operational activities, but it has become obsolete and inadequate for the era of globalized trade driven by sophisticated technological facilities required to facilitate the high volume of import and export involved.
They also stated that Nigeria has joined the league of advanced nations who have embarked on massive infrastructural revolutionizing of their seaports, as Nigeria boasts of an ultra-modern, multi-purpose, smart state-of-the-art deep-sea port with capabilities to handle the volume and complexities of modern cross border trade and there is need for sustenance
They added that The Lekki Free Trade Zone deep seaport is a significant step and a response to the much talked about change in the Maritime sector over the past 40 years. This initiative is a step in the right direction that will make Nigeria the maritime destination and transhipment hub of West Africa and other landlocked countries.
They observed that The Private-Federal-State model of partnership employed for the realization of this project is novel and praiseworthy towards the elimination of conflicts arising from differences in regulatory and operational environments which is a major obstacle to ease of doing business in Nigeria.
In their recommendations, the speakers said: “There is an urgent need to focus on the development of Key infrastructures, such as electricity and rail system, to support the operations of the port. The current use of Flatbed Sea barges can only serve temporal purposes therefore there is a need for a permanent measure. There is a need for negotiations to be initiated with the Dangote refinery for the supply of power to the port as power may be a setback.
There is also the need to provide a fully functional harbour master office, security and safety, and more bollard pull tug boats with higher capabilities for towing, salvage and rescue services. There is a need to take measures to prevent encroachment into lands required for future expansion and development of the port. A community platform be created to unify the operations of various operational and regulatory agencies to prevent the issue of duplicate regimes. The Ports and Harbour Bill be passed into law to provide a strong and robust legal framework after the model of the US Deep Water Act 1974 which has evolved over the years to provide for the regulation of all aspects of the port and its operations including environmental, security, local content, amongst other issues.
Unwholesome needless practices such as harassment by customs officers and logistical bottlenecks aimed at sabotaging the gains of automation be highly curtailed to encourage patronage and to attract trans-shipment cargoes for the Nigerian port. Though there is a need to build more ports, Nigeria must first attract transhipment cargo and put in place whatever it takes to become the West African hub. It is pertinent that all, that is government and private entities alike, collaborate with the management of the Lekki FTZ Deep Sea Port to realize the purpose of the project.
Watch the full event replay here: https://youtu.be/VbrTmAhhlwg