- Ex-minister Seeks Support for Free Trade Zones
Former Interior Minister Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho has urged the Federal Government to support free trade zones.
Speaking in Lagos, he said well-developed free zones would generate jobs.
Importers, exporters and other stakeholders in the maritime value chain, he said, would also benefit from free trade zones.
Iheanacho, who is Genesis Shipping and Integrated Oil and Gas Company Cchairman, decried the low level of awareness about free trade zones, adding that their promotion by stakeholders and President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was important for their development.
He said that Genesis Worldwide Shipping Company has gone far in the development of the $450 million Tomato Industrial Free Zone in Lagos and that the facility will aid ship building and fuel distribution.
The former minister added that the facility would have a shipbuilding yard for ships taht are over 10,000 deadweight tonnage (dwt).
”Nigeria has for a long time wanted to be a builder of ships; now we are making this a reality. The jetty for berthing and loading vessels will be ready in nine months,” he said.
Iheanacho said that his company had earlier secured a grant of $1 million from the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to facilitate market study for the detailed engineering master plan of the island. He said the Island would also host a 20,000 barrels per day modular refinery and over 30 fuel storage tanks with about 500 million liters capacity.
He said with such facility, the nation could get 15 days uninterrupted supply of petroleum products. Already, the company has completed the construction of the base park, which serves as office complex, while the base for the tank farms are being completed with more under construction.
Iheanacho said the tank farms are structured in such a way that they supply and pump fuel to ships on the Island.
“This tank farm is different from every other tank farm that relies on arrangement where ships supply tank farms and then lorries come and pick up the supply. But because we are located on an Island and because of the function that they are designed for, we supply by ship then actually pump back by ship to the tank farms that are located to the West,” he explained.
He stated further that the company would start erecting more structures in the next few months to accommodate government agencies on the Island.
Iheanacho identified some businesses that are being planned at the free trade zone, which will add value to the economy in terms of industrialisation, employment and revenue generation.
The project, estimated at $450 million, includes a ship fabrication yard, a modular refinery, access slipway, oil storage tank farms, water treatment plant, power generation plant, container lay down/transit, and crude oil distillation unit, fire station, and a heliport and helicopter service facilities and a five-star hotel, among others.
The free port zone occupies 75 hectares of land in between the Snake Island and the Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL), which are enjoying free trade zone status. According to Iheanacho, some Chinese and British investors have shown interest in investing in the project.
The Tomaro Industrial Park, which was last year granted a free trade zone status, is expected to generate 2,000 direct jobs on completion.