•Sanwo-Olu, Cabinet Members on Two-Day Working Tour of Lagos Free Trade Zones
Commercial operations at the Lekki Deep Seaport in Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) will begin in the first quarter of 2023, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Friday, got the assurance from Tolaram Group – the frontline investor handling the project.
The Governor and members of the State’s cabinet are currently on a two-day working tour of the three free trade zones established in Ibeju Lekki area of Lagos.
The port, which is being constructed by China Habour Engineering firm, is occupying 90 hectares in the entire 830 hectares of land carved out for the Lagos Free Zone, created in 2012 to enhance economic position of Lagos as manufacturing and logistics hub in West Africa.
The first phase of the seaport project, which is being financed by $629 million facility from China Development Bank (CDB), is at 48 per cent completion.
After going through the project master plan, Sanwo-Olu said his administration remained committed to delivering project, stressing that the deep seaport and other investments happening in the corridor had the potential to increase the State’s GDP in multiple folds.
He said: “Given the report I got and what I have seen here, I can say that Lagos Free Zone has made tremendous improvement. We have seen the level of partnership Tolaram Group is bringing in terms of international investment and local brands on this corridor.
“I commend all stakeholders that are with us on this journey we have found ourselves. With the level of work we have seen, I’m truly excited. It is more gratifying that, we are taking up this assignment with all energies required and we all can see what we can achieve when we work together.
“Since we signed a loan agreement less than 18 months ago, we have demonstrated strong capability in bringing the project to reality. This is the first quarter of 2021 and we have seen the project in about 48 per cent completion. The investors have given us the commitment on first quarter of 2023 completion date. We will fulfill all our parts to make sure this date becomes reality.”
Sanwo-Olu, who noted that he had been part of the conversation for the development of the free zones as a Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in 2006, said his administration had recorded significant progress in bringing the projects to reality.
The Governor said the priority accorded to the construction of complementary infrastructure projects along the corridor was a demonstration of his Government’s fulfillment of its pledge to Lagos residents. He promised the State would work with the timeline to ensure all projects mapped out in the zones are deliver.
Sanwo-Olu said the size of the deep seaport will allow 18,000 TEU capacity vessels, which are four times bigger than the ones berthing at Apapa seaports, thereby scaling down the cost of container transportation from any part of the world.
He said: “The interesting part is that, our youths and young women will be the beneficiaries of this project. The project managers have engaged large number of our citizens in the construction parts of the work; all personnel are not expatriates. All the technical work and technology deployed have local component to it.
“For us a Government, this is the strongest point we have made with the project. I am fully convinced that the delivery of this project will transform commercial architecture of West Africa and bring about quick turnaround time in maritime sector.”
When it is completed, the deep seaport is expected to generate more than 170,000 direct and indirect job opportunities for Lagos residents, and serve as alternative in an effort to decongest the Federal Government-owned seaports in Apapa.
Chief Executive Officer of Lagos Free Zone, Mr. Dinesh Rathi, said Tolaram Group, a Singaporean coy, initiated a $2 billion investment in the Lagos Free Zone, out of which the investor committed $950 million to developing manufacturing hub in the zone.
When the deep seaport is completed, Rathi said the maritime project was expected to generate more than 170,000 direct and indirect job opportunities for Lagos residents, and would serve as alternative in an effort to decongest the Federal Government-owned seaports in Apapa.
Chairman of Lagos Free Zone Development Company, Mr. Biodun Dabiri, hailed the State Government for its commitment towards changing face of commerce in Africa, stressing that all statutory permits, licences and endorsement for the Lekki port project were already secured.
“There is strong guarantee that the port will be delivered before time, going by the inflow of capital investment and technical services,” Dabiri said.
The Governor and his entourage also visited Africa’s second largest manufacturing plant of Kellogg Tolaram, manufacturer of cornflakes, which is built in Lagos Free Zone. The Governor toured the processing unit of the firm and inspected the production chain.
Also joining the Government’s team in the tour are the Chief Executive Officer of Lekki Freeport LFZ, Mr Du Ruogang, and Head of Marketing for LFZ, Ms. Chinju Udora, among others.
?: Ademola Olaniran ?
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The Lagos State Government has completed more than 1,097 school projects covering 970 schools across the State, just as it has also ensured the upgrade and rehabilitation of 322 dilapidated public schools and the furnishing of Primary Schools with 87,000 dual composite unit of chairs and desks in two years.
The State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, disclosed this while representing the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, at the commissioning of the completed school infrastructure projects at Ogudu Junior Grammar School, Ogudu on Friday.
According to him, the project being commissioned is inline with the “Education and Technology” pillar of the present administration’s T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda, saying that “If we must actualise our Greater Lagos vision, quality education must remain one of our most solid building blocks”.
While commenting on the vital role of education in the growth and development of a megacity like Lagos, Mr. Omotoso stated that it has become imperative for the government to ensure that the children have access to quality education and an enabling environment for excellent learning.
His words: “In order to accelerate our children’s access to world-class pedagogical learning, we have aggressively embarked on the provision of blocks of classrooms, administrative offices, school furniture, laboratories, modern toilet facilities and security across the six Education Districts and Local Government Councils. Therefore, our children have access to quality education irrespective of their location”.
The Commissioner averred that the Lagos State Government was convinced that teaching and learning could only take place effectively in an atmosphere that is conducive to learning, hence the government’s commitment to the provision of new infrastructure and the rehabilitation of existing ones.
“I am glad to note that our investment in the education sector has been yielding positive results. Our students’ performance has improved tremendously in examinations, national and international competitions. They have also improved in morals, etiquette and confidence in public speaking”, he said.
Omotoso further noted that other gains of the investment in the education sector by the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu led administration include the Lagos State team emergence as winners at the 2021 National Junior Engineers, Technicians and Scientist (JETS) competition, which took place at the National Mathematical Centre, Kwali between February 21 and 27, 2021.
The Commissioner, therefore, urged community leaders, school administrators, staff and students of Ogudu Junior Grammar School to take ownership of the project and ensure that miscreants do not destroy or cart away the property of the school.
In her welcome address, the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, represented by Mrs. Oluranti Olagbaju, stated that the school infrastructure projects were evenly distributed across the Local Government and Local Council Development Areas.
“There is hardly any school in the State that was not touched by either a new school building, new classroom block, hostels, security structures, school fence, toilets, furniture and boreholes among others”, she said.
The vision for the actualisation of the education sector was made possible through the effective collaboration of the Lagos State Ministry of Education, Lagos State Universal Basic Education (LASUBEB), the Special Committee on Rehabilitation of Public Schools (SCRPS), and the Lagos State Infrastructure and Assets Management Agency (LASIAMA).
Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Unit (Taskforce) has dislodged squatters, removed shanties and evacuated the abandoned vehicles under Iganmu Bridge after expiration of the three-day notice served on the illegal occupiers of the area on Monday.
The Chairman of the Task Force, CSP Shola Jejeloye, speaking after the exercise on Thursday, disclosed that the State Government intends to put the location to good use immediately in order to ensure illegal squatters do not return to the place.
He recalled that during a visit by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu it was agreed that the location should be decongested as part of efforts to remove the traffic gridlock in Apapa.
Jejeloye explained that the occupants of the Iganmu Underbridge had been informed to leave the area six months ago before they were served the 72-hour removal notice on Monday.
He noted that relevant Government agencies including the Ministry of The Environment and Water Resources, Lagos Waste Management Agency (LAWMA), LASPARK and security agencies have been mandated to take possession of the area for clean up and management.
The Chairman envisaged that clearing of the location and dislodgement of squatters would bring to an end the incessant traffic robberies, indiscriminate parking of trucks, environmental nuisance and sale of hard drugs prevalent in the area.
“The State Government would adequately maintain this place. This will discourage the squatters from returning, especially those who use the area for illegal activities and hideouts”, he stated.
•Says It’s Ploy to Distract LASG, Sanwo-Olu
•Ndigbo Are Not Agents of Destruction
•We’ll Continue on The Path of Progress, Security – Sanwo-Olu
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo has advised Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to ignore the rumour that members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) are plotting to attack Lagos, noting that it is a ploy to distract the State Governor and his administration from providing good governance for all residents of the State.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to Governor Sanwo-Olu at the Lagos House, Marina on Thursday, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Ambassador (Prof.) George Obiozor, said the “dangerous rumour or statement is aimed to cause division, crises and conflict amongst us.”
Obiozor in his address titled “Violence in any part of Lagos State is violence on all of us” said Ndigbo cannot indulge in any act that will harm the harmonious peace and cordial relationship between Igbo and Yoruba, especially Lagos, which he described as second home of several Ndigbo.
The leader of the Igbo apex socio-cultural organization also commended Governor Sanwo-Olu for the exemplary leadership he exhibited at the peak of COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged Nigeria, especially in Lagos State, adding that the Governor deserved commendation for controlling and restricting the speed of coronavirus with his quick response.
Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, during a Security Townhall Meeting at the Lagos State secretariat, attended by Governor Sanwo-Olu, and other principal officials in Lagos State on Monday, said there were plans by some groups, which include IPOB to attack ‘soft spots’ in the state.
But responding to the statement, Prof. Obiazor said Igbo nation was renowned for being agents of development and not destruction.
“Today, the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, in the company of Igbo Elders and Leaders in Lagos, are here to pay you (Governor Sanwo-Olu) a solidarity visit and to further reassure you that Ndigbo are not violent in nature, neither are we known for acts of violence anywhere we live.
“The constant and periodic dangerous insinuations, rumour, gossips and callous statements that Ndigbo in Lagos or any part of Yoruba land contemplate or instigate violence in Lagos or any part of Yoruba land; we wish to state clearly that anywhere this dangerous rumour or statement is emanating from is aimed to cause division, crises and conflict amongst us.
“We think that this rumour is intended to distract the Lagos State Government from its efforts to provide good governance for all and cause disaffection between Ndigbo who live in Lagos and their host community which is the second home of several Ndigbo.
“The quick denial of this rumour by members of IPOB and Yoruba groups in Lagos and across the South West was a source of relief,” he said.
Prof. Obiozor also reiterated Ohanaeze Ndigbo’s total support for Lagos State Government and the security agencies’ patriotic efforts to keep everyone safe in the State and throughout the country.
“I am aware that the Government and good people of Lagos State under your able leadership, and through their hospitable gestures, have continually kept the trust and friendship between Ndigbo and our host communities in Lagos State alive.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo through this medium reiterates total support to the state government and the security agencies in their patriotic efforts to keep everyone safe in Lagos and throughout the country. The Igbo nation is renowned for being agents of development, not destruction. Ndigbo are builders and their contributions to the development of Lagos State are evident and exemplary,” he said.
Responding, Governor Sanwo-Olu assured Ohanaeze Ndigbo leadership of continuous good governance, security of lives and properties of all residents in Lagos State.
The Governor said he had no doubt that the Ndigbo are great people, noting that his administration would continue to foster harmonious relationships with all the different tribes and ethnic nationalities in the State.
The courtesy visit was at the instance of the Ohaneze Ndigbo, to clear the air on the rumoured attacks on Lagos by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
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