Stakeholders in the maritime industry have called for the liberalisation of the Lagos Offshore Free Trade Zone (LADOL) to put an end to a monopoly structure that has stifled the development of over 121 hectares of land allotted for the project.
Some of the stakeholders argued that the purpose of setting up the free zones (FZs) by the Federal Government was to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), generate employment, encourage transfer of technical skills to Nigerians and boost the country’s economy.
However, Lagos-based investment advisor in the maritime sector, Mr. Tunde Hamzat lamented that rather than attract investments, the LADOL free zone has been enmeshed in controversies in recent years that have scared reputable investors.
“We remember the killing of a Korean working in the free zone in April 2019 by an operative of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). Activities in the zone are characterised by multiple litigations between investors and the zone manager. Very recently NPA alleged that LADOL shortchanged the Federal Government to the tune of N16 billion. Indeed, stories coming out from the free zone have become too scary for investors to stake their money,” said Hamzat.
Bayelsa State-based oil services provider, Mr. Akpan Ekong,alleged that the over 121 hectares of land was too big to be managed by Global Resource Management Free Zone Company (GRMFZC), hence the need for its liberalisation by the government. He alleged that the firm’s continued stranglehold on 121 hectares of land at Tarkwa Bay in Lagos had hampered efforts to attract investors to the Lagos Free Zone. He said for over 20 years that LADOL had been managing the zone, a large chunk of the 121 hectares of land had remained undeveloped alleging that the operator lacked the capacity to form alliances with local and foreign investors to boost developments at the free zone.