LAGOS State government has entered into an arrangement with engineering and maritime investment company Westron Properties to dredge the new port in Ijegun near Satellite Town that will eventually absorb half of the traffic at Apapa.
Handling over 1m 20-foot containers a year, Apapa is by far Nigeria’s busiest port and overwhelmed by the amount of cargo it has to deal with, the area surrounding it has become among the most polluted parts of the country. Suffering from constant traffic jams, 40-foot container trucks litter the road to Apapa and the traffic jams go as far back as 10km in queues, polluting the environment with diesel fumes.
In a bid to address the problem, the federal government is planning to dredge other ports along the Atlantic coastline like Warri, Port Harcourt and Calabar. However, the Lagos State government is taking the initiative by seeking to develop Ijegun, which it believes will absorb up to 50% of the traffic at Apapa port.
Westron Properties chairman Chief George Igboegun, said the actual development of Ijegun port commenced way back in the 1990s with massive dredging and reclaiming of the swamp around the Satellite Town area. He added that with greater corporation from the government, the port city which currently absorbs 25% of the Apapa traffic, will eventually absorb 50% when it is completed.
Chief Igboegun said: “The demand for port facilities in the ever-growing city of Lagos has seen an exponential growth in the last few years. The resultant effect is that even the addition of Tin Can Island port could still not meet this demand.
“This has led to the chaos Apapa has turned into, with the nation losing tonnes of money on daily basis. Efforts by the government to ease the pain of Apapa has not yielded the desired result.”
He added that his firm started business with fishing trawlers but encountered challenges with delays at the Apapa port. Chief Igboegun noted that the issue of requisite infrastructure for the new city had been a recurring problem over a long period.
According to Chief Igboegun, while searching for solution to the problem, the firm discovered the swampy and natural Ijegun harbour and decided to explore its maritime potential in collaboration with the government. He said various parties and companies with interest in the new city, mostly under the umbrella of the Ijegun Tank Farm Association, had over time been making their individual contributions towards the development of port infrastructure.
Chief Igboegun said the current market value of Ijegun port city is $30m, while the firm spent over $13m developing it. He said the establishment of Ijegun port city had brought rapid development and increased the overall storage capacity for petroleum products, thus reducing the shortage of the products.
“The new bridge and road represent some of our contributions towards bridging this infrastructural gap in the new city. It is our hope that with the combined effort of both the private and public sectors, the city will see further growth, making significant contributions towards relieving the Apapa problem,” Chief Igboegun added.
He added that about 60% of Nigeria’s petroleum products were housed in Ijegun, pointing out that there are currently 12 tank farms there, holding a storage capacity of about 600,000,000 litres. A new port facility is already under construction in the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos through a public-private partnership, while another may be built in the Badagry area of the city, near the border with Benin Republic.