President Muhammadu Buhari has officially pronounced Tomaro Industrial Park, a Free Trade Zone (FTZ), in line with the Federal Government’s effort to industrialise the nation’s economy through building of industrial clusters across the country.
“On behalf of Mr. President and because it is only Mr. President that can declare any place a FTZ, and because Mr. President has given that authorisation, Tomaro Industrial Park can now answer truly and it is indeed a Free Trade Zone,” said Emmanuel Jime, managing director of the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) at the grant signing ceremony between United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and Eko Petrochem and Refining Company Limited including the official presentation of Tomaro Industrial Park in Lagos, last Friday.
Jime stated that due to the competitive nature of the world economy today, Nigeria has recognised that to move away from the present model of doing business, the country must imbibe the structure of FTZ as a model of development.
According to him, Tomaro Industrial Park is one of the facilities that NEPZA intend to engage. “While Tomaro wants to partner with NEPZA is because there are incentives in having businesses sited in the Free Trade Zone.
“We want to make Nigeria an attractive and preferred destination for business. And the mandate of NEPZA is to create an enabling environment for businesses so that they can find Nigeria a sure destination,” said Jime.
While congratulating the management of the Island for the feet, he assured them of NEPZA unflinching support towards the realisation of its set objectives.
Speaking on the company’s vision and plans, Emmanuel Ihenacho, chairman of Integrated Oil and Gas, said that the United State Government through the USTDA has given the firm the sum of $797,343 from its Industrial Development Grant.
“The grant is to be specifically used to finance the detailed analysis of supporting technologies and engineering for the implementation of the 20,000bpd crude oil refinery,” he added.
Ihenacho commended the American government and the USTDA for the support, which, he said was the first external financial support to go into the project.
“The grant will go a long way to ensure the timely completion of the project within the specified timeline. Because it was coming from the American government, it also provides very critical validation for our business effort, practices and direction.
“The Tomaro Industrial Park and Free Trade has today come into existence and we also need to source significant investment funding to fully actualise the dream of this project,” Ihenacho added.
Giving insight into the projects that would be accommodated in the FTZ, Temitayo Ogunbanjo, who doubles as the project consultant and the former managing director of Integrated Oil and Gas, the zone will have storage facilities like tank farms for ease of discharging imported products.
“The management plans to have a ship fabrication yard for building ships, starting from smaller vessels to building bigger ones in the future. In another three to five years, we will see a ship fabrication and repair yard in the free zone being built on the left side of the Tomaro Island,” he disclosed.
The island, he said, is made up of 75 hectares of land bounded by two existing Free Zones, the Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL) at its right and Snake Island at its left, both providing logistics services to Exploration and Production business in the oil and gas industry.
“The market is so large that even the existing facilities cannot meet the current demand that the industry requires. Therefore, we have decided to use a part of the Island to provide oil and logistics services to the upstream sector,” he added.
Ogunbanjo also stated that the Island would accommodate other oil servicing companies in the zone and cater for their fabrication and engineering need.
Emmanuel Ihenacho, he noted, is also the chairman of an aviation firm known as ‘Genesis Aviation’. “Currently, it has about six helicopters to its fleet and they are housed in a lease facility, but we want to build a hanger in the Island and have those helicopters operate from here.”
The Free Zone will also have about three to five star hotel in the island so that International Oil Companies can house their staff before airlifting their offshore base of the operation. “We believe that in another five years, the zone would be having a lot of buildings, jetties and fabrication yard and it would create several jobs to Nigerians.”