…FG May Cancel Rail Contract Agreement with CCECC
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Eng Muazu Jaji Sambo has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is concerned about the evacuation of cargoes from the Lekki Deep Seaport in Lagos
Sambo made this known at the inspection of the Lekki Deep Seaport on Saturday in Lagos.
According to him, the President does not want a situation whereby the traffic gridlock in Apapa and Tin-Can Island Port is replicated at the Lekki port.
The Lekki Deep Seaport is already 95percent completed and it is expected to be commissioned in September by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The minister has equally threatened to sanction the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) for not meeting up with the contract of providing 85 per cent of rail project cost.
According to Sambo, the projects are the Kano-kaduna and the Maiduguri-Port Harcourt rail lines.
Speaking, he said “The president is concern about the evacuation of cargoes from this port. He does not want a situation where the Apapa, Tin-Can experience is replicated here. So I think you need to sit down with stakeholders and aggressively see how we can tackle this challenge”
“Honestly I don’t want to rely on the roads, because the roads are not the best means of evacuation of Cargoes. I think the rail remains the best option. What is paramount to me now is what can we do to immediately to make sure the rail connection is realized.
“The second option is use of barges. We can see how that is helpful in the Apapa, Tin-Can Ports axis in moving containers to Ijora and Ikorodu and other areas. I will advise that this option is taken very seriously”
“The best way to evacuate cargo is by rail or water. The road add to the congestion because there are other vehicular movement on the road. The short term measure is to expand the road which the Lagos State Government is currently doing very well. For the medium term, we hope to do the rail and use the barges. A lot of initiatives are on ground” he said
Eng Sambo however said that CCECC has failed to provide funds for the construction of rail projects as agreed in their agreement with the minister.
“The CCECC have not brought anything to the table, I gave them a deadline which is Oct. 30, if I don’t get that money on ground, I know what to advise Mr President to do,” he said.
Sambo who expressed satisfaction on the Lekki Deep Seaport project noted that initiatives were on ground to ensure smooth evacuation of cargo at the port.
“I am impressed and happy to be back here. This we know is the pride of all Nigerians, first deep sea port in West Africa that will take the largest ship in the world, have 16.5 meters deep and will give us hundreds and thousands of jobs.
“Almost automated not fully but automated enough to make life easy for port operations.
“It is initiatives like this we want to encourage, that is why I did not hesitate when I came to the ministry and I saw a proposal of the Badagry Deep Seaport sitting on my table and took it immediately for approval.
The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, noted that the Lekki Deep Seaport was one of the first solution to reducing traffic at Apapa and TinCan.
According to Bello-Koko, the automation deployed at the port is commendable and fantastic as the processes will be free of human interference.
He said that the Apapa and TinCan port would still be viable, adding that what they had done was to create alternative for importers and exporters as to where they would decide to do business.
“The operators of those ports should also up their game, and improve their speed in terms of cargo clearance or otherwise.
“Feasibility study have shown that these ports will still be viable in future like, 10, 15 years, government can decide to turn some of these ports into a real estate, we have some of them in Europe,” Bello-Koko said.
Mr Du Ruogang, the Managing Director, Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Ltd. (Lekki Port), said that the port was 95 per cent completed, adding that they would meet the targeted time.
Ruogang appreciated the NPA for deploying marine services such as tug, pilot, lines, boats and harbour master before the operations of the port.