Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), says the commencement of operations at the Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) will help decongest the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports in Lagos.
Emefiele said this when he visited the facility at Itoke village, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, on Saturday.
Dinesh Rathi, chief executive officer, LFZ, had described the zone as an ideal destination for industrial investment, not only in Nigeria but also in West Africa.
“Ladies and gentlemen, right here, and I’m sure you went around with us, you saw the entire fabric of what is happening in this zone; it has a port,” NAN quoted Emefiele as saying.
“And I’m sure we all know that one of the biggest problems in Nigeria today is congestion of the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports; we have been crying about what needs to be done to decongest that area.
“In fact, it got to the point where Mr President gave a mandate that it must be cleared, but because of certain structural problems in that Apapa and Tin Can area, we have not been able to clear those containers.
“So, we are really saying that the Lagos port operation in conjunction with Chinese investors would be commencing operation sometime around September this year.
“It gladdens our hearts because it will decongest the problems that we have in Apapa and Tin Can, which are really at the centre of Lagos.
“And we have been clamouring that there is need for us to have more ports where goods can come in easily and then export can go out easily without any hindrance in line with the way it is done in different parts of the world.
“And seeing what I have seen today about your port operations that is about to commence in September, I am truly salivating to see that this starts as quickly as possible.”
Emefiele added that the apex bank would make every possible effort to facilitate a resource-efficient environment for companies and businesses to thrive.
“So, we’re looking into how to make sure that the policy regulations are reviewed; we have our concerns about how free trade zones operate either tax exemptions or duty-free exemptions and the rest of them,” he said.
“We would like to work with you to see how we would create a clear demarcation that separates companies that operate as free trade zones or operating in free trade zone from those that will not operate as free trade zone.
“Whereas you will also find that a company may want to operate as a free trade zone and at the same time operate the other way. So, we need to demarcate how this will work, such that it will not result in loss of revenue.”
The CBN governor added that the apex bank would collaborate with the state government and the federal ministry of works to see how the Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria could ensure cargo evacuation from the port area.
He said the CBN had raised about N23 billion to fund road infrastructure and to facilitate the smooth evacuation of cargo out of the port.