Mr Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has raised hope that the commencement of the Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) will help overcome the Apapa-Tincan Island port congestion.
The 850 hectares free trade zone, acquired about 15 years ago, will commence operations in September 2022.
Speaking when he visited the facility on Saturday in Itoke Village, Ibeju-Lekki Area, Lagos State, Emefiele said “Ladies and gentlemen, right here, and I’m sure you went round with us, you saw the entire fabric of what is happening in this zone, It has a port.
” And I’m sure we all know that one of the biggest problems in Nigeria today is congestion of the Apapa and Tincan 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 Tincan 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 totally decongest the problems that we have in Apapa and Tincan which are really at the Central 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 said.
The CBN governor further said that the bank would ensure it did everything possible to make the environment friendly 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.
“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,” he said.
Emefiele also said that the apex bank would partner the state government and the Federal Ministry of Works to see how Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria could ensure cargo evacuation from the port area, describing it as a big issue.
He said the CBN had raised about N23 billion to fund road infrastructure, to facilitate smooth evacuation of cargo out of the port.