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FG can’t connect Lekki Deep Seaport by rail – Amaechi

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Abiola Seun

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Sunday, said that the Lekki Deep Seaport, cannot be connected by rail due to funding challenge.

With this disclosure, the Apapa traffic will be transfered to Lekki Port access road as road users will have difficulty accessing their offices and homes due to, poor road network.

The Minister disclosed this after the inspection of the project, expressed satisfaction with the pace of work, noting that the port was the first of its kind in West Africa.

He said, he would have loved to connect the Lekki deep seaport to a rail, but,  funding of rail projects was currently a challenge for Nigeria.

He said, “As a Minister of Transportation, I imagined a lot of things that I could have implemented. I imagined that the Lagos-Calabar rail line would start from here, that was my imagination, but, the Lagos-Calabar rail project needs $11.1 billion funding but, there were no such funds at the moment for the project.

He, however, advised the port contractors to invest in the rail sector too, saying, the government will either do tax reduction or do something to help them.

“Another advice I could give is if they want to invest, they can invest in rail and then the government will either do tax reduction or do something to help them.

“If we get the 11.1billion as it is, we would probably have to divert the rail line, because Lagos-Calabar rail line actually goes into Lagos city, we can divert it to come to the seaport in Lekki,” he stated.

The Minister, also, said Lekki deep seapor, when completed and operational, would contribute $360 billion to the Nigerian economy over the course of 45 years.

He said the deep seaport was “a privately funded project, over time, they (contractors), will collect their revenue from the commercial activities before they hand over to the Federal Government.

“But obviously, taxes will be collected here, even them (Contractors) will pay taxes, I am not sure there were any taxes mentioned in the agreement, but I doubt there is any tax exemption.

“So, we will collect taxes here, the confidence in giving them the project is because of the taxes that we will collect here that will help us in the construction of other projects.”

Amaechi, further explained that the Contractors will have to recover the money they invested in the project, stating that “in financial terms, in the process of recovering their money, they will contribute to the GDP of the nation annually”.

He said the project will contribute over “$360 billion over the years. It sounds much, but we actually need more of that money to accomplish what we want to achieve.”

On the expansion of the seaport, the Minister complained that the port was not spacious enough to accommodate high-level economic activities in years to come.

“It also depends on how much the economy will grow before then. The growth of the economy will put pressure on the expansion.

“The argument we had in cabinet is that the need for a deep seaport at Lekki was a result of the fact that the demand for port activities in the country has exceeded the supply of Tincan and Apapa around Lagos.

“This is the first deep seaport in Nigeria, what we had all this while are river ports, the Tincan is a river port, the Apapa is a river port and port Harcourt.

” Right here you have 16.5 meters drafts which are good for the country, but the country needs more than just one of these ports because of the increase in commercial activities in the future.
‘We need just more than Lagos deep seaport and for me, before I leave office ,I will emphasise on the construction of the Bonny deep seaport,” he stated.

Amaechi revealed that the deep port will be completed in June and operational by September 2022.

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