WHY IBEJU LEKKI WILL NOT BECOME THE NEW APAPA.
Most people who have been caught up in the deadly Apapa gridlock are understandably concerned about the possibility that Ibeju Lekki might become the new Apapa.
Apapa is home to Nigeria’s two major ports, which handle 75 percent of the country’s overall imports. However, major problems such as traffic, a bad road network, dysfunctional transit practices, inefficient logistics networks, and weak infrastructure have rendered Apapa a daunting spot to visit throughout the years.
The presence of the world’s largest single-train refinery and a deep seaport and many manufacturing industries has raised concern amongst investors about the possible gridlock once they are all fully operational. However, the Lagos State and Federal Governments and the Dangote Group have taken steps that show promising signs.
Ibeju Lekki is a border city in Lagos State, less than 40 minutes away from Ijebu Ode, unlike Apapa, which is situated in the city center. The roads connecting Lagos and Ijebu Ode by Epe have been extended and tarred by the federal government in cooperation with Ogun and Lagos’ state governments.
The Lagos State government has started the Eti Osa-Lekki-Epe Road expansion project to further alleviate future traffic congestion. The project’s first phase, which began in November 2020, aims to expand the two-lane 18.75-kilometer road from Eleko to Epe T-Junction to a six-lane road with three lanes on each side. A lane on each side will be reserved as a toll weighbridge only for heavy-duty vehicles, such as tankers, container trucks, and construction trucks, to help organize their operations.
Unlike the Apapa port, which only has one entry and exit, the Lekki seaport has several access points. Industrialists can conveniently reach the seaport and free zone via Eleko, or via Igbogun, which is located in Ogun State. Furthermore, during a visit to the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical facilities with members of the Lagos State Executive Council, the Lagos State Governor announced that construction of the Magbon-Alade highway and other vital infrastructure would begin in May 2021.
The carriageway which extends from Lekki-Epe Expressway into the Free Trade Zone area, covering several kilometres is a partnership between the Lagos State Government and the Dangote Group.
The development was made known when Sanwo-Olu and members of the State’s Executive Council visited the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical facilities in March, the second day of the Governor’s working tour of the Free Trade Zone in Ibeju Lekki area of Lagos.
After the five-hour tour, both Sanwo-Olu and Dangote went into a private discussion where they agreed on the timeline for the kick of the road project.
Briefing the press after the meeting, the Governor said: “Today, we have taken a five-hour tour of the Dangote Refinery, which is the biggest single refinery in the world and also visited its fertilizer factory, which is the second-largest in the world. Between the time I came here in 2019 and now, there has been a huge improvement in the construction and layout of the entire site.
“For us as a Government, it’s not to fold our arms and be expecting that all is well in this corridor. We are here to encourage the investors and to show them that we are with them. The Government is in place to serve them; anything that will ease business is critical to us.
“We have met and cleared out few issues around approvals, right-of-way and the infrastructure that needs to come on this axis. We don’t want a replay of Apapa gridlock here. So, we have agreed and we have planned a timeline for ourselves on the construction of Magbon Alade Highway, which comes to the free zones from Lekki-Epe Expressway.” Finally, plans are in the works to start construction on the new $1 billion superhighway that will link Lekki Free Zone and Epe.
Another major problem that has triggered massive gridlocks along Apapa is the lack of proper storage facilities. However, the South-West Quadrant of the 16,500-hectare free zone Master plan has been set aside for warehousing and storage.
These ventures demonstrate the State government’s readiness to prevent a repeat of Apapa in Ibeju Lekki. So, let go of your fears and seize this chance while land is still relatively inexpensive.
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