By Lucy Ogalue
Amaechi, who showed excitement during the visit to the port, said the speed of work was engendered by the knowledge of President Muhammadu Buhari’s intended visit to the site.
The president visited the port on Monday after the inauguration of the new international wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos with a capacity to process 14 million passengers per annum.
”When I was making the case for the President on why he needed to come to the seaport, most people did not understand why. Do you see the huge difference between when we came two weeks ago and now?
”There are two reasons why I asked the president to visit the seaport. The first one is to publicise the seaport so that people will know that this government is building a seaport which is the first in Nigeria.
“The other ports you have in Nigeria are all river ports because they tilt off the sea.
”The second reason was to put the heat on them and with that, we are almost ready. If not for the equipment, they can actually get this place ready before June
”But they said all the equipment are arriving by June and installation will take them till September and it can be commissioned by September.
”You see the miracle of bringing a president to this place. That is why the president must also inspect projects. It will hasten the process if there is money for completion,” Amaechi said.
On the relocation of about 5,000 inhabitants around the port, the minister said he would communicate with the Lagos State government on measures to acquire the land.
According to Amaechi, the traffic witnessed at other ports like the Apapa port, will not be witnessed in Lekki as all goods will not be brought to the Lekki port.
”This is a private port; no agency will run here. They will be present but they will not run it because it is a private port. It is also an automated port, so the traffic witnessed at Apapa will not be here.
”Also, all goods won’t come to Lagos. Goods will go to Warri, and Port Harcourt, so what government needs to do is to either rehabilitate those ports or build new ones.
” I am convinced that we will commence work on Bonny deep seaport before we leave office, “he said.
The Managing Director, Nigeria Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello-Koko, reiterated that the Lekki port would ensure speedy delivery and clearing of goods and cargoes.
”So what it means is that there will be a reduction in the traffic and the pressure on Tin Can an and Apapa ports, so we are very happy at the NPA that this is happening.
”Don’t forget also that there’ll be ship to shore crane at these ports location. What this means is that more goods will be able to process faster, the draft is about 16. 5 meters.
” There is no port with that kind of draft in this country currently, so it means bigger vessels will come in, it also means that we are going to get back some of the businesses we have lost to the neighboring countries because of the draft limitation at the existing ports, “he said.
According to Bello-Koko, the port will generate more employment to the value chain, add to the GDP of the country and increase revenue for the NPA.
He said that the Lekki port when operational would result in healthy competition for other terminal operators as they would be forced to up their game.
Bello-Koko said plans were underway to link the Lagos-Ibadan rail to the Lekki port.
He also said that the government intended to rehabilitate the Tin Can port and possibly increase its depth.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Buhari visited to inspect ongoing work at the port in company of some Governors, Heads of government parastatals and other key stakeholders. (NAN)