Investment advisors and maritime operators have alleged that they are made to pay exorbitant charges at
Tarqua Bay base of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics (LADOL) calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene on the issue to encourage inflow of investments into the free trade zone.
The operators lamented that the exorbitant cost of land per square meter and high cost of boat services in the free zone, are the highest in the country, and have scared potential investors who are willing to take advantage of the strategic location of the zone to bring in Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) into the country.
A maritime expert and Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Kingsley Omose told journalists that there was the need to cut down on the cost of doing business in the free zone to attract investors and create jobs.
It was learnt that the free zone charges $15 entry and exit fee per person per day and annual passenger jetty service fee of $6,000,000 even when the value of the jetty itself is less than one million dollars.
Each investor operating at the free zone is also required to pay $160,000 annual fee to station four armed guards in the free zone while the zone operator spends less than $10,000 on these guards.
A top official of one of the operators said that unlike other free zones in the country, the Lagos deep offshore base is under lease to a private zone operator, which compels potential investors to negotiate with the zone operator instead of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
“This arrangement has led to investors paying exorbitant and suffocating charges and President Buhari should intervene to halt the underutilisation of the large expanse of land in the free zone, despite its attractive strategic location,” said the official who wouldn’t want to be named.
Some of the operators alleged that the high charges imposed on oil and gas industry stakeholders at the free zone are passed on to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and subsequently paid by the Federal Government.
Omose said for the government to reduce the cost of producing crude oil, it must check the high charges imposed on the operators doing jobs at the free zones.
“If the Federal Government and the NNPC want to slash production cost for a barrel of crude oil, they should look at the operations and charges of the likes of LADOL who are tenants of NPA but whose exorbitant charges are paid by government through NNPC’s majority stakes in the joint venture oil operations of the international oil companies (IOCs). For the production sharing contracts the reason why federal government’s take from offshore oil production is little or nonexistent is due to the high charges, which LADOL incorporated and which must be deducted by IOCs before sharing the balance oil with the federal government,”he said.
He said for a company to invest in the free zone, such a company would have to approach LADOL and will have to pay a premium.