August 09, 2006/guardian
The first phase of the N9.6 billion ($60 million) private port ever built in Nigeria would be commissioned next week by President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Built by a multinational shipping company, Grimaldi Shipping Line, the commissioning would herald the commencement of works on the second phase which is to cost $30 million (N4.8 billion).
The project, which construction works started on barely 13 months ago when the Federal Government signed an agreement with the Italian shipping giant, is located at the Tin Can Island.
It is a direct dividend of campaign for foreign investment embarked upon few years ago by President Obasanjo when he travelled round the world to lure foreign investors to Nigeria.
The project, which commenced on build, operate, own and transfer (BOOT) basis is to be owned and managed for 55 years after which the ownership would revert to the Federal Government.
Authoritative sources at the company said that the second phase would have facilities like the second berth area and an administrative office complex.
The new multi service port is located on 170,000 square metres of land, which formerly served as Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) staff quarters.
The quay (belt) area, which is expected to measure a depth of 11 metres and a length of 250 metres, would accommodate Roll on Roll off (RORO) vessels.
The company already has a terminal in Tin Can Island specially designed for vehicle storage. It was the first terminal to be computerised before government announced the eight-year age limit policy for imported fairly used cars into the country.
According to the company sources, the new RORO terminal on completion would provide accommodation for all security agencies designated to operate at the port, including the Nigeria Customs Service.
The new port built by Trevi Foundation Ltd., an Italian firm, would provide 300 direct and over 1,000 indirect jobs.
Grimaldi Shipping Line, which has about 80 vessels in its fleet worldwide, named two of the vessels about two and a half years ago in Croatia and Italy after Nigeria and built in Pula, Croatia and Grande Lagos built in Italy.
During the on going port reforms when many foreign shipping companies went for concessioning of ports terminals for them, Grimaldi opted for greenfield development when it settled for Build Own And Transfer (BOT) to enable it provide specialised structure that would enable it provide efficient service to its customers in Nigeria.
The company was given a go ahead order last year, when it signed an agreement with the government to build the new port terminal on 25 years BOT, the first port operator or shipping company to have such arrangement in the country.
The arrangement, unlike concessioning, carries along with it high risk and huge capital outlay.
Grimaldi Group, from all indices, seemed to be strongly committed to the development of the Nigerian shipping trade as Lagos remains one of the main ports of its North Europe and West African network with about 50 calls per year by its large multi-purpose RORO vehicle carriages deployed on the Central Express Service.
Besides, the company recently introduced a feeder shuttle service on Dakar-Monrovia-Lagos route to meet the growing demand of shipment from South America to Lagos. The company\'s operations have provided job opportunities to no fewer than 120 Nigerians.
The new terminal is one of the four new ports that were approved by the Federal Government.
Just as Grimaldi got approval for the new RORO Port at Tin Can Island, Maersk Shipping also got approved for a container port at Snake Island, while Integrated Logistic Services (INTELs) got approval for a new port in Port Harcourt.
The fourth new port would be build by Ondo and Ogun states in a joint venture, which have earmarked N60 billion for the project at Olokola, a boundary town between the two states.
Transport Minister, Abiye Sekibo first gave an insight to the establishment of two new ports in Lagos in 2004 when he said that two foreign companies would be spending about $60 million on the projects.
The Managing Director of the NMA, Chief Adebayo Sarumi also told members of the economic intelligence committee in is office early last year that the Federal Government had approved four new ports.
The Guardian had reported that plans had reached advanced stage between the governments of Ondo and Ogun states to build a port with free trade zone status in their domain.
The report said that the two state governments had already acquired 10,000 hectares of land for the port project.