LAGOSâ€”Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, yesterday commissioned the landmark one-stop-shop and administrative complex at the Lekki Free Zone, saying that the prosperity of the Lekki Free Zone and the Lekki-Epe area is tied to the success of the tolled Lekki expressway.
The Governor who spoke at the commissioning of the Lekki Free zoneâ€™s administrative complexÂ added: â€œthe prosperity of this region depends on that road and how efficiently it works, adding: â€œIf you want investors to come we have to encourage that road to be built and other such roads in addition.
â€œIt must be mentioned that the success of the Lekki Free Zone and its potentials to be the biggest and most successful on the African continent depends on the transportation network that supports movement of goods and services in that areaâ€, adding that this explains why the government embarked on the reconstruction of the 49.5km Lekki Expressway through toll concessioning as a precursor to the coastal roads.
He appealed to the host communities to cooperate with the concessionaire and take full advantage of the committee set up to review areas of difficulty.
â€œThis is what is happening elsewhere that we seek to emulate. We cannot wish to have what they have and choose to ignore what they do. There may be dispute, but it can always be resolved.Â We should not jeopardize our collective prosperityâ€ he added.
â€œFor almost 30 years, the Badagry area showed so much potentialsÂ but the land value did not appreciate, industries did not flow there.Â This is the lesson we must learnâ€, he said.
He said he has written to the Federal Government on the need to identify critical road projects such as the one that will link Ikorodu and Epe as some of the road projects that must be undertaken as investment incentives if the country truly means to implement Vision 20:20.
Governor Fashola also said he has also taken up the issue of gas to the Free Zone with the Federal Government to ensure supply of electricity to the zone and its neighbours, adding that this represents the minimum development projects that should be provided if Nigeria seeks to be one of the leading economies in the world.
The governor said the state has already paid over N700 million as compensation to land owners in the parcel â€œAâ€ area of the project while it is working with beneficiaries in parcel â€œBâ€, adding that Certificates of Occupancy (Cof Os) for 750 hectares of land which would serve as resettlement within the zone would soon be ready for delivery to the people where they can engage in farming and other cottage activities.
Governor Fashola also informed that other benefits in stock for the people of the area are a 110 bed maternal and child care hospital as the first phase of a general hospital, as well as a model 1050 students’ capacity classroom block.
Incentives for investors
Other incentives being planned for the investors and communities in the area, according to Governor Fashola,Â include the construction of an International Airport, a sea port, a gas powered Independent Power Project (IPP), sewage treatment plants, refineries and so many other facilities.
He described his presence at the event as an affirmation of his campaign promises that the Free Trade Zone is an irrevocable project whose implementation he would champion, adding, that the commissioning of the Administrative Complex and One Stop Shop represents the face of the zoneÂ and signals the commencement with over 2000 square metres office space for use by the investors and government agencies who are desirous of first class services.
He said at the last count over 70 local and foreign companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and have made financial commitments signifying interest in the zone.
â€œAnother 53 companies have registered in the Free Zone investment agreements while 12 companies have executed investment agreements that have ensured that over 800 Nigerians and 70 Chinese nationals have been employed within the zone especially in constructionâ€, Governor Fashola said.
Â …says project tied to success of free trade zone
The Governor commended the Federal Government and the Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA) for the Lekki Free Trade Zone regulation which is contained in the 2010 Gazette which spells out the rules and regulations applicable in the zone as well as the incentives available.
He also applauded the activities of several notable individuals who have contributed to the success story of the LFTZ since it started seven years ago.
In his remarks, Chairman of the Lekki Free Zone Development Company, Engineer Segun Jawando expressed joy that despite the challenges and obstacles faced in the process of putting it on its feet, the project has come to reality.
Engineer Jawando who gave a brief background of the project from conception, commended Governor Fashola for his commitment in realizing the project noting the Governor was involved in the project from conceptualization when he was the Chief of Staff to the immediate past Governor of the State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Describing the project as the largest in Africa, the Chairman said with the commissioning of the Administrative Complex, the Zone has been positioned to receive investors who, according to him, â€œare already knocking on our doorsâ€, adding that they would soon be at the Zone. He appealed to the host communities to embrace the project describing them as lucky to be beneficiaries of such international project.
Also in his comments, the Managing Director of Lekki Free Zone Development Company (LFZDC), Mr. Chen Xiaoxing, described the commissioning of the Administrative Complex of the Zone as â€œa signalâ€ for the company to take off in earnest.
Xiaoxing who lamented that the company has lost sometime already and â€œwill like to flyâ€, commended Governor Fashola for his support and commitment to the take off and success of the project.
Assuring that the company would deliver a world class Free Trade Zone to Lagos State, the Managing Director declared, â€œWe have the willingness and determination to make this a Trade Zone a masterpiece. Our confidence is derived from the support of the Governor of Lagos State, the Chinese Government and with the support of the host communities we will make a huge success of this projectâ€