LADOL’s operational standard earns it ‘Industrial Park’ status, says NEPZA

After a recent tour of the Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL) Free Zone in Lagos, Nigeria, the Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA) the government agency responsible for regulating free zones, affirmed the facility’s quality and standards of operation.
 Managing Director of NEPZA, Mr Gbenga  Kuye, who was touring the facility for a third time, described LADOL as  ‘one of the top free zones’ and that its operations had earned it the status of an industrial park.

After a tour of the facility, Kuye said his experience of what he saw superseded his expectation based on his last visit to the site, while he expressed particular satisfaction with the level of safety measures in place.  

“When we came to do the ground-breaking about 15 or 16 months ago, I was not expecting this level of activity, but I believed in the dream and have given all the support.

“But what I have seen today, not only in terms of what has been achieved, but in terms of world-class standards of doing things makes me proud of you.

“This is real work, not make-belief, because as a chemical engineer, I know when somebody is telling stories, especially when it comes to coating, painting and fabrication.

“I have been to a facility like this. I think in Singapore or Poland?  It is not this big, but the kind of safety measure that I see here is actually second to none,” Kuye said.

On the scope of NEPZA’s responsibility, Kuye said the agency had grown bigger and so, was in a legislative process of changing its name from NEPZA to NIDZA, that is, Nigeria Industrial Development Zones Authority, an agency to be solely responsible for industrialisation.

On NEPZA creating enabling environment for Nigeria’s free zones to thrive, Kuye said the agency always acted readily to support  these operations in terms of intervening to settle administrative  challenges that might involve any agency of government, to the benefit of  the nation’s economy.

He recalled one of such occasions when NEPZA had to intervene to settle an issue that LADOL had with the compliance and enforcement department of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) which eventually made them rescind an order concerning the berthing of a vessel.

Kuye said that in another development of ensuring enabling environment for the free zones, NEPZA again intervened recently to facilitate a meeting of the LADOL management and the Comptroller-General of Customs to settle some issues that arose.

His words: “Last week, also, there were some issues, and we facilitated the Management of LADOL meeting the CG one-on-one, even without prior arrangement. When they went there, they had their meeting, and they came out happy. That, to me, is enabling environment.”

Earlier, the LADOL Managing Director, Dr Amy Jadesimi, said the location of the Lagos Free Zone(LFZ )was an advantage for the company, and the country in terms of jobs that the location would enable the industry handle.

Jadesimi, in her presentation, said that developments at the LFZ would increase the local demand for fabrication four-fold.

Her words: “Now that we can receive FPSOs (floating production storage and offloading units), VLCCs (very large crude carriers), semi-submersibles at our quay in LADOL, that increases demand for Nigerdock, Dorman Long, AVM, Saipem, etc.

“Because, now, just as they do in other places in the world  -  Norway, South Korea, Singapore, you have a location where the vessels berth, you have a location where the fabricated pieces built throughout Nigeria are assembled.

“ And that gives you an advantage, which means that you can now begin to domesticate these projects. Not just 10, 15, 20 per cent, but even 70 per cent. And 70 per cent domestication is what Brazil has. That is one of the things that drove Brazil to join the G20. 

 “During our development, we had the support of the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) in our power, in our electronic management system, and, as we developed from a swampland into the $600 million facility you see today, we always bore in mind the fact that we wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before.

“And that wasn’t just building a facility; it was operating it in a way that made us more efficient than a lot of yards in the West. A lot of yards in the West were built 30, 40 years ago,” she said.

Jadesimi said their operations would be mainly IT-driven (Information Technology) working in a cashless and paperless system, which was what the USTDA helped them develop.

She added that besides helping to lower cost, the system would enable them achieve increased efficiency and work accuracy, which is the idea behind the right operational system and having the right training facilities.