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CBN to support decongestion of Lekki – Epe Road corridor, warns firms against dollar loans

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The Infrastructure Company Limited (Infraco) is expected to engage the federal and state government on how to expand the Lekki -Epe road corridor in a bid to avert the kind of experience of traffic congestion on Oshodi -Apapa expressway leading to the nation’s port city.

According to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, “The entire idea is that with this Lagos Free Zone port, we should be able to see a total decongestion of Apapa and Tin Can port purely from the stand port  that it would take the traffic away from Apapa.

Emefiele, who spoke while on facility tour of the Lagos Free Trade Zone, in Lagos, noted that the corridor might have similar experience that is currently happened on Apapa port corridor if action is not taken immediately.

“The entire idea is that with this Lagos Free Zone Port, we should be able to see a total decongestion of Apapa and Tin Can Island Port purely from the standpoint that it would take the traffic away from Apapa.

“And we’re also afraid that with the single road that we have, which is the Lagos-Epe-Lekki road that is already congested with traffic, the situation will worsen even with Dangote’s refinery. Yes, it is something that we are seeing and we have come here today, and I have been to Dangote Refinery several times; and I know how long it takes to drive by road.

“So, what I’m trying to say that we have realised the problem,  Infraco luckily is chaired by the CBN. The Infraco Board has been formally constituted, there is a CEO in Infraco and as soon as we leave this meeting, I will be calling on Infraco to begin engagement.

“I will also be involved in engaging the Lagos State Government, as well as the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Works to see what can be done; how we decongest the traffic for people living around this axis.”

“I want to give assurance that this is something that would be dealt with. This would be a middle to long-term plan.”

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The CBN governor encouraged entrepreneurs and business owners to key into apex bank’s various interventions, stating that the CBN was keen on promoting industrialisation with long-term single-digit loans.

“For any entrepreneur that wishes to do business in Nigeria we will provide both Naira funding and will always advise that particularly if your revenue stream is in naira, I will not advise taking dollar loans.

“Take cheap Naira loans at single-digit interest rates with two years moratorium. I don’t think that you would ever find this again. I always encourage people to take advantage of it because it’s available as we want to drive industrialisation in Nigeria and get a manufacturing business back alive again.

“We would support not only the Tolaram Group or the Dangote’s or the BUAs; once you mean well and you want to do business in Nigeria, we would give you all the support you need,” he explained.

Emefiele noted that the Tolaram Group had made immediate plans to evacuate their products through the port to Ikorodu, Festac, and Warri to trucks, which for the immediate time don’t have road congestion impact. According to him, road expansion is a much-needed investment that would also aid export.

“We are happy that this port infrastructure is here, it would have to deal with our problem of ease of doing business. Part of our problems about ease of doing business or in this case, ease of export, is that we find Nigerians want to export, they can export their goods out of Lagos Tin Can or Lagos Apapa port.

“People prefer to drive by road to transport their products and goods to neighbouring countries and ship them out of those countries and the implication is that Nigeria loses the benefit of being called exported from Nigeria,”

“I believe with this port and we are going to be engaging them, I’m happy the Customs and the Nigerian Ports Authority are involved; we would seek to also work with the Lagos Free Zone by having a dedicated export desk that would make it easy for goods to be exported out of this port.

“That is a very essential thing that we need to deal with because again, talking in a very selfish mode, we need foreign exchange.  If we export, we earn foreign exchange, and I am going to start working with them to ensure that we designate the Lagos Free Zone as an export zone,” he added.

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