Lagos State Government said it has secured a loan of $629 million to finance the ongoing Lekki Deep Sea Port Enterprise Limited, LPLEL, billion-dollar project.

Commissioner for Commerce, Industry, and Cooperatives, Dr. Lola Akande, disclosed this on Monday, at the year 2021 ministerial press briefing to commemorate the second year in office of Governor, Bababjide Sanwo-Olu, held in Alausa, Ikeja.

Lekki deep sea port is being built over 90 hectares of land at the centre of the Lekki Free Trade Zone, LFTZ, approximately 60 kilometer east of Lagos. It is the first deepsea port to be built in Nigeria on Built Own and Transfer agreement.

Construction of the initial budgeted $1.5 billon deepsea port began in December 2017 and the project is expected to be completed in 2023 after been reviewed.

The multi-purpose Lekki port will have container, liquid and dry bulk terminals to serve container vessels of up to 8,000TEUs (20ft equivalent units), dry bulk vessels, and liquid bulk cargo vessels.

A 9 kliometres-long and 19 metres -deep navigation channel and a 600m-wide turning basin will be built to allow vessels to approach or leave the port. A 1,500m breakwater structure and a 300m secondary breakwater structure will be constructed for safe handling of vessels.

Other facilities at the port will include a 6km-long and 14.5m-deep approach channel, quay wall, cargo handling cranes, and three 19m-deep liquid jetties.

When operational, the Lekki deepsea port is expected to be one of the most modern ports in West Africa and support the growth of commercial operations in the region as well as serve as alternative to Apapa Ports.

According to Akande, the loan secured from China Development Bank, CBD, is to support, falicitate the construction, development of the giantic project and early operation in year 2022 targeted period.

“Current completion percentage as at February 2021 stood at 47 per cent, trial operations of the port is slated for third quarter of year 2022 while commercial operations is slated for first quarter of year 2023,” she stated.

Akande explained that the project has provided job opportunities to 611 local workforce, which in life: 32 local skilled workforce, 513 local semi-skilled and 66 local un-skillled labour.

Also speaking on the state of the ongoing construction of Dangote refinery and Petrochemical Industry in LFTZ, she said the project which has generated over 1,000 local employees, is expected to commence operation by end of the second quarter of 2021.

Akande added that the construction of an integrated petroleum delivery system valued at $230 million has been completed.

“Total number of 40 free zone enterprises were in operation as at February 2021,1054 local employment generated between October 2020 and February 2921.

“Though Lagos State Government has no shares in Dangote Group, we stand to benefit from employment opportunities.”

Also, while delivering activities of her ministry o the occasion, Commissioner for Tourism,  Arts and Culture, Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, disclosed that the state Government’s master policy document to revolutionise the tourism sector in the state would be presented next month, June 2021.

The document would provide the pathway for the implementation of all tourism, arts and culture-related activities by the state government for the next couple of years.

According to byo report, the document had gone through scrutiny processes by relevant stakeholders in the industry including the top management team of the State’s Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture.

The objectives of the policy, including among others; harnessing and developing the State’s tourism resources into different products of attraction for both inbound and outbound tourists; unleashing Lagos Tourism to the World through aggressive digital marketing and promotion; stimulating and encouraging the creative Arts industry.

Others are to support and encourage the development of tourism initiatives by way of pro-poor tourism in the local Communities; incorporate and integrate stakeholders as critical partners in tourism planning and product development.

The Master Plan will be driven by the Lagos Tourism Policy which is designed to develop Lagos Tourism as a sustainable mechanism that contributes to the quality of life of average residents and ultimately make the state a preferred tourist destination in Africa.

Akinbile-Yussuf, said with the master plan, the State Government hopes to lay the foundation for developing a comprehensive and sustainable Tourism strategy for the state which focuses on its rich culture and heritage, community development, heritage management, preservation, and revenue generation.

“With this Master Plan in place now, the era of haphazard development of tourism activities in the State is gone. There is now a structured guideline that must be followed for short, medium, and long term tourism activities and projects,” she said.

On the assessment of the achievements of the ministry in the last year, stressed that the efforts of the ministry centred on activities directed towards revitalising the sector; including approval of the constitution of a COVID-19 Pandemic Review Committee to review and assess the impact of the pandemic on the tourism sector in Lagos state.

Others are approval of the sum of N1billion by the Governor Sanwo-Olu as single-digit soft loans for the Tourism and Entertainment sector in the State to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses, and the approval of 50% rebate on Registration and Renewal fees for Hospitality and Tourism Establishments in Y2020.., among others.

Also speaking, Special Adviser to the Governor on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Solomon Bonu, said the Council for Arts and Culture were engaged by different Ministries Departments and Agencies, MDAs to provide entertainment and cultural performances at some government functions, including commissioning of some projects in different parts of the state within the period under review.

He mentioned that the Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture held the Y2020 edition of the Annual Arts and Crafts Skills Acquisition Workshop where hundreds of beneficiaries in craft and artwork making were trained free.

He added that through the initiative, the intention of the government is to empower over 2.5 million youths through Arts and Crafts, adding that it is in addition to the provision of start-up credit facilities for them through Wealth Creation and Employment.