•How Lekki port, Blue Line, others will make the difference

By Lukman Olabiyi

With the inauguration of Lekki Deep Sea Port, Imota Rice Mill and Blue Line Rail Transit by President Muhammadu Buhari, Lagos State citizens, are looking forward to its impact on their lives. The port and rice mill were commissioned on Monday, January 23, 2023.

The port is to serve as the gateway for Nigeria and the surrounding West African region. The 32-metric tonne per hour Lagos Rice Mill, Imota, Ikorodu, is to support rice revolution in Nigeria. It has an annual paddy requirement of over 240,000 metric tonnes to produce 2.5 million bags of 50kg rice per annum and generate over 250,000 jobs.

The John Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, Onikan, was inaugurated on January 24. The centre provides a flexible, updateable space for learning programmes, art installations and live music events.

It has an exhibition gallery telling Yoruba history and culture. It seeks to restore a public swimming pool built in 1928 with updated facilities. It will serve as a place for remembrance and reconnection for Yoruba people from Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, America and the Caribbean as well as the rest of South West Nigeria.

On same date, phase one of the Blue Line Rail of Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) was inaugurated. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the second phase to run from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko was also signed.

The 13-kilometre line runs from Marina to Mile 2, with five stations; Mile 2, Alaba, Iganmu, National Theatre and Marina. The Marina station, the largest train hub in Africa, is 240-metre long and equipped with two concourses of 12 turnstiles each. It has a processing capacity of 480 passengers per minute and 24,000 per hour.

Travel time from Marina to Mile 2 route is about 15 minutes. It is powered by high voltage electricity (750VA). It is one of the six metro lines identified in the LRMT master plan and contained in the Lagos State Strategic Transport Master Plan (STMP).

Others in the STMP are the Red Line, Agbado-Oyingbo-Marina; Green Line, Marina-Epe; Orange Line, Redeemed Camp-Marina; Purple Line, Redeemed Camp-Ojo; Orange Line and Yellow Line Sango-Ota-Iddo.

Buhari said: “These projects commissioned would not have happened without close collaboration between the federal and Lagos State governments and the involvement of the private sector.

“The results can be seen in the many thriving businesses across Lagos State, in manufacturing, oil and gas, creative industries, services, digital economy and many more, creating tens of thousands of jobs and economic opportunities for Nigerians.”

Traditional rulers, experts and associations said citizens would benefit immensely from the projects. Ayangburin of Ikorodu, Oba Kabir Shotobi, said: “The rice mill will bring enormous economic opportunities to the community and jobs for the teeming youths in the area.

“I urge our youths to stop searching for white collar jobs but focus on agricultural or study agriculture to increase the country’s food chain.”

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Imota of Imota, Oba Ajibade Agoro, said: “I am the happiest man on earth today. It is during my reign that this is happening. I am 30 years on the throne. It is a landmark achievement bestowed on the people of Imota during my tenure.

“This plant will bring about those factors of production that will promote commercial and economic development. The mill is projected to create up to 250,000 jobs. Just imagine the multiplying effects of such number if added to our community with their dependents.”

Oniru of Iru, Oba GbolahanLawal, said: “I am very happy for this development. I remember 2011 to 2012, when the Eko Rice started it was 2.5 metric tonnes capacity. We were able to create a lot of jobs through the rice value chain.

“Today, we are on eight hectares of land. If optimally utilised and the number of jobs it will create is awesome. This is the biggest in West Africa.”

State chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Dr Femi Oke and chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RFAN), Mr Raphael Hunsa, said the mill would encourage farmers to produce more and farmers would continue to support the mill.

Hunsa urged government to continue to empower farmers with implements to increase paddy production to feed the mill: “This project is very wonderful, it is a thing of joy to us as rice farmers in Lagos. I am happy that such a thing is happening in Lagos.”

Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko, said of the Lekki Deep Sea Port: “This will be a model for other deep sea ports in Nigeria. I say congratulations to the investors and the project delivery team, the Lekki Port management team for a job well done.”

Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, said: “Today, we are seeing the realisation of the commissioning of the best port in Africa that is expected to inject not less than $360 billion and provide employment to not less than 190,000 Nigerians.”

Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr Emmanuel Jime, said he was glad to witness the delivery of what would be the game changer in the maritime industry.

Chairman, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), Mr Tang Qiaoliang, said the port would improve the Nigerian port industry, ease burden of cargo shipment flow, create employment and promote international trade.

Managing Director, Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Ltd (LPLEL), Mr Du Ruogang, promoter of the port, said it would boost Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Promote (GDP) and facilitate trade volume: “The macro-economic benefits of the port are enormous. It will redefine maritime activities in Nigeria and West Africa.”

Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Cui Jianchun, said: “Time is money, efficiency is life. Today we understand the meaning of time. We need to sustain the usage of time for greater efficiency. This project has reflected the harmony and sympathies for both China and Nigeria.

“China and Nigeria have turned into a new era and embarked on a new journey to build a modern and social economy. We are embarking on new infrastructure and also a new era to develop our economies.”