• Explores use of ocean-going barges for transshipment
By Anthony Nwachukwu
In a multi-pronged approach to ensuring a smooth and safe cargo evacuation when commercial operations go full swing soon, the management of Lekki Port has completed its truck park near its location, save for some little works.
The 150-truck capacity facility, around which newsmen were conducted Wednesday by the port management during a media parley, was fully finished off with interlocking stones, perimeter fence, in and out access gates and administrative offices, among others.
Exclusive to the port, the Managing Director, Mrs. Adesuwa Ladoja, said the reality of the truck park dispels the rumour that it was a mere paperwork, which heightens fears that cargo evacuation from the recently commissioned multi-billion deep sea port would be worse than the current situation at the Apapa ports.
According the Chief Operating Officer of Lekki Freeport Terminal (LFT), Mr. Leandro Rangel, the port is fully automated, including for truck access, with the call-up system linked to the automated gate and the vehicle booking system, and truck drivers would have to book appointments in advance.
However, talks for a comprehensive call-up system are ongoing with the Lagos State Government and other stakeholders in the Lagos Free Zone, including Lekki Port, Dangote Free Zone, Dangote Refinery and Pinnacle Oil and Gas, among others.
About the collaboration, the LFT Chief Commercial Officer, Kehinde Olubi-Neye, disclosed the company’s “active discussions with the Lagos State Ministry of Transport and other stakeholders on the deployment of the call-up system for trucks for the Lekki area.
“We have confidence that it will address any concern that prospective port users would have over access to the port,” he added.
Beyond the use of the roads, however, Olubi-Neye said that Lekki Port was also exploring the possibility of moving cargo by ocean-going barges and has been able to execute over five moves with over 900 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) of containers from Lekki Port to Ikorodu in Lagos.
According to him, the LFP was currently discussing with stakeholders to explore the uptake by barge the containers discharged at Lekki Port to the Eastern Ports of Calabar, Warri, and Onitsha River Port, among others, as a way to boost the economy of those ports.
Meanwhile, the LFT has frowned at the unfounded claims that some regulatory agencies, especially the Nigeria Customs service (NCS), said they were not ready for operations at the facility, even as some customs officers were training at the facility on the use of the cargo scanner during the parley.
With almost all the regulatory agencies present at the parley speaking their unalloyed support for the big thing that the facility has finally become, Mrs. Ladoja, piqued at the unwarranted negative image being painted before the promoters, especially the foreigners, has called for caution.
“It is not such a Nigerian port but a private one, built with both foreign and Nigerian money,” she noted. “We are having meetings (with the regulators and stakeholders) every week. This is our (Nigerian) project, help us to let it kick off very well. Reach us to clarify issues for a balanced report.”
Regulators at the parley included the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, represented by Ikechukwu Onyemekara, who described Lekki Port as a Nigerian project and assured that the agency would do all it could to grant necessary approvals and provide marine services.
Also assuring their cooperation for a conducive operating atmosphere for all stakeholders were the Zonal Administrator, Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA), Mr. Garba Hayatu, representatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Directorate of State Services and the Nigeria Police.
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