By Oluwabunmi Ogunjimi
OPERATORS and analysts in Nigeria’s oil and gas and maritime industry have called for the liberalization of Lagos Deep Off-Shore Base, LADOL Free Zone in Lagos with a view to breaking the chain of monopoly that has hindered the development of the zone.
Speaking to journalists in Lagos at the weekend, Mr. Tunde Hamzat, Chairman, Concerned Maritime Association, lamented that rather than attract investments, the LADOL free zone has, in recent times, scared investors.
Hamzat, also a Lagos-based investment advisor in the maritime sector, stated 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.
“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, Mr. Innocent Oshemi.’’
He said activities in the zone are characterised by multiple litigations between the investors and the zone manager adding that very recently the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA alleged that LADOL short changed 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.’’
Speaking in similar vein, a Bayelsa State-based oil services provider, Mr. Akpan Ekong, stressed that the over 121 hectares of land was too big to be managed by Global Resource Management Free Zone Company (GRMFZC), an affiliate of LADOL.
Also, a Delta State-based analyst, Mr. Nelson Peters, pointed out that as the agent of a regulator (NPA) LADOL also exercises governmental and regulatory powers over all enterprises within the zone.
“It is evident that this monopolistic tendency has frustrated the free zone operator’s crucial role of attracting investors as it now focused on pursuing its pecuniary benefits at the detriment of the foreign and local investors in the zone and the Nigerian economy,” he added.