By Henry Umoru
OPERATORS of FreeÂ Â Â Â Trade Zones in the country especially in Lagos State have identified poor state of infrastructure especially in the area of transportation facility as a major problem to the sector, just as they cried out over the huge sum of money spent in generating power.
Speaking with Journalists in Lagos during facility tour of Free Trade Zones, the Director, Lekki Free Zone Development Company (LFZDC), Ding Yonghua said that the Trade Free Zones will be a success story when the nationâ€™s economy improves especially in the area of quality infrastructure.
According to him, â€œThe development of the trade free zones goes beyond infrastructure development. It has to do with national development and except there is improved economy and quality infrastructure, the trade free zone would never be a successâ€.
Meanwhile, the players in the Free Trade Sector of the economy have also identified the non-signing of the Petroleum IndustryÂ Â Bill (PIB) as the biggest challenge in the oil and gas industry.
Ding Yonghua who noted that the transportation system in the country was not encouraging for Free Trade Zones to thrive in the country, stressed that against this backdrop, investors develop cold feet to put in their hard earned money, just as they see it as waste of resources.
â€œWe have spoken with many investors especially in the development of the sea port but they are not willing to commit because of their belief that if the roads which majority ply is neglected, what would now happen to the seaport which has less but sensitive patronage. Investors see such as inconvenientâ€, he said.
Also in his remarks when the team visited Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL), the Chairman, Ladi Jadesimi who noted that the organization spent millions of naira to sand fill before constructing anything, stressed that the base has developed land and services for fabricators and contractors to build their own facilities at the cost of $100million.
Jadesimi who disclosed that LADOL was wholly owned by indigenous Nigerians and the only Nigerian owned deep offshore logistics base in the world, said the base boasts of bulk fuel facility (MGO); specialized reinforced concrete platforms for fabrication/testing/load out; water treatment plant; ducts/piping built into quay.
to deliver products directly to vessels.
In his comments, the General Manager, Snake Island Integrated free zone company (SIMCO).
, Nigel Aldridge explained that the zone comprises both industrial and non_industrial areas has gulped $600million on facility.
Aldridge who urged the Federal government to ensure that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) was passed, said that when passed into law, it would help improve the oil and gas sector, adding, â€œthe PIB which is yet to be signed into law is the biggest challenge to the players in the oil and gas industryâ€.
According to him, Snake Island Integrated free zone became operational as free zone enterprise in July 2005 and it has at present, twelve free zone enterprises which include Niger Dock, Slumberger, Africa cycle currently occupying the area.
Addressing Journalists at the end of the tour, the leader of the team and a General Manager of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority,NEPZA, Mr. Chris Ndibe who noted that the tour became imperative for the promotion of free zones in Nigeria, stressed that free zone was a developmental policy with its challenges which NEPZA, as federal government agency monitors and takes report back to federal government after meeting with players in the industry for federal governmentâ€™s decision.
The free zones visited by the team included Lekki free zone (LFZDC), Lagos Free Trade Zone (LFTZ),Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL), Airline Services and Logistics Plc (ASL), Snake Island Integrated free zone (SIMCO).