Transport Minister Alhaji Mu’azu Sambo has threatened to sanction the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) for not respecting the contract to supply 85% of the cost of the railway project.
Sambo made this known during the inspection of the Lekki Deep Seaport on Saturday in Lagos.
According to Sambo, the projects are the Kano-Kaduna and Maiduguri-Port Harcourt railway lines.
“The CCECC didn’t bring anything to the table, I gave them a deadline which is October 30th, if I don’t get that money on the ground, I know what to advise Mr. President to do,” did he declare.
Sambo, who expressed satisfaction with the Lekki Deep Seaport project, noted that initiatives were on the ground to ensure smooth evacuation of goods at the port.
He said that for a part-time, the road was being expanded, adding that the government was studying the matter, and in the medium term, barges would take care of it.
“I’m impressed and happy to be back here. What we know is the pride of all Nigerians, West Africa’s first deep water port which will accommodate the largest ship in the world, is 16.5 meters deep and will give us hundreds and thousands of jobs.
“Almost automated not fully but automated enough to make port operations life easier.
“It is initiatives like this that we want to encourage, which is why I did not hesitate when I came to the ministry and I saw a proposal from Badagry Deep Seaport on my table and I immediately taken for approval.
“Furthermore, the President is concerned about the evacuation of cargo at the port and does not want a repeat of Apapa port and TinCan and therefore we cannot rely solely on the road, which is not the best option.
“There is a need to sit down with the stakeholders to see how to solve this problem,” he said.
He pointed out that cargo evacuation is not just inside the port but outside the port, as the goods need to reach the final destination.
“First of all, you save a lot of time in port thanks to automation and modern technology and equipment.
“After the port, what happens only makes sense when the goods reach the sender or the owner. And to do that, you have to travel by rail, water or road,” he said.
Sambo urged the port management to employ as many Nigerians as possible as this was the only way for citizens to put food on the table for their families.
The Chief Executive of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko, noted that the Lekki Deep Seaport was one of the first solutions to reduce traffic in Apapa and TinCan.
According to Bello-Koko, the automation deployed at the port is commendable and fantastic as the processes will be free from human interference.
He said the Apapa and TinCan ports would still be viable, adding that what they had done was create alternatives for importers and exporters as to where they would decide to do business.
“The operators of these ports should also up their game and improve their speed in terms of clearing cargo or otherwise.
“Feasibility studies have shown that these ports will still be viable in the future in 10, 15 years, the government may decide to turn some of these ports into real estate, we have some in Europe,” Bello-Koko said. .
Mr. Du Ruogang, General Manager of Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Ltd. (Lekki Port), said the port is 95% complete, adding that they will meet the scheduled deadline.
Ruogang appreciated the NPA for deploying marine services such as tug, pilot, lines, boats and harbor master before port operations.