Operators seek FG’s intervention over high charges at LADOL zone
Investment advisors and other maritime operators have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene on the issue of the high charges slammed on investors at the Tarqua Bay base of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics (LADOL) to encourage inflow of investments.
The operators lamented that the exorbitant cost of land per square metre, and high cost of boat services in the free zone have scared potential investors who are willing to take advantage of the strategic location of the zone to bring in Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).
According to them, the cost of land per square metre and the cost of boat services within LADOL are the highest compared to what investors pay in the other zones.
For instance, investigation reveals that the zone operator demands $15 free zone entry and exit fee per person per day; and yearly passenger jetty service fee of $6,000,000 even when the value of the jetty itself is less than $1,000,000.
Each investor operating at the free zone is also required to pay $160,000 yearly fee to station four armed guards in the free zone while the zone operator spends less than $10,000 on these guards.
The maritime operators argued that unlike other free zones in the country, LADOL 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, they argued, had led to investors paying exorbitant and suffocating charges to the zone operator, compared to the “pittance” the zone operator paid to the NPA for the lease.
The operators urged the President to look into the high charges, which they said, had led to gross under-utilisation of the large expanse of land despite its attractive strategic location.
A maritime expert and Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Kingsley Omose, who spoke on the issue, told journalists that for the Federal 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.
He said for a company to invest in the free zone, such a company would have to approach LADOL and pay a premium.
“You can see that with the Samsung situation – where what they were charged by NPA is pittance compared to what they are paying LADOL. That is the story of Nigeria where public officials constantly put the interest of others and themselves before the Nigerian state,” he said.
Also, an operator, who claimed anonymity, said that the high charges imposed on oil and gas industry stakeholders at the Lagos free zone were passed on to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by the free zone operators and subsequently paid by the Federal Government.