September 20, 2005/Source ThisDay
Federal Government yesterday rounded off transactions on the privatisation of Apapa Container Terminal complex, Lagos by signing a 25-year concessioning agreement with a Dutch firm, A. P. Moller Terminals for $3.6 billion.
The agreement automatically confers on the private firm, legal take-over of the management and operatorship of the port facility for a period of 25 years.
Under the agreement, the company is to pay $10 million as contract signing fee while other payments are to be spread over the 25 year lease period.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, said the agreement marks a major breakthrough in the present administration\'s vision of transforming the country\'s ports operation into an efficiently managed enterprise, run by the private sector.
\"The signing of the agreement is a fulfilment of President Olusegun Obasnjo\'s vision of making Lagos Ports the fulcrum of ports operations in the sub-region,\" he said.
Sekibo praised the excellent manner with which the negotiations were handled, adding that it was due to the high level of integrity and professional expertise adopted by Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) that AP Moller a world class port operator was attracted to invest in Nigeria.
He expressed the hope that the coming of the operator would engender greater efficiency and cause reduction in cost of doing business in the nation\'s ports.
The minister invited interested private investors to come and participate in a similar exercise for the privatisation of the other sea ports located in Ikpokiri and Onne in Port Harcourt and Calabar Port terminal. He said government is also willing to partner with the private sector to develop a green field facility in a portion of land within Lekki area of Lagos.
The minister reiterated government\'s determination to fulfill the twin reform agenda in the transport sector which is to establishment of a legal and regulatory framework as well as the setting up an authority to monitor operations in the industry.
The Chairman of Board of Directors of AP Moller Finance, and the former Head of Interim Government of Nigeria, Chief Earnest Shonekan, described the concessioning of Apapa Port as the first major step in the country\'s match towards a private-driven maritime industry.
He commended the level of transparency exhibited by the officials of BPE in the processing of the agreement.
While handing over the cheque for $10 million to the Minister, the Managing Director of AP Moller Terminals, Mr. John P. M. Verschelden said the company intends to blend its global competencies with the Nigerian experience developed from its activities in the country since 1953.