Ondo and Ogun State Governments recently conceived the idea of developing a
deep-seaport and Free Zone (FTZ) around Olokola in the coastline areas of
Ondo and Ogun State. The project is proposed to be private sector led with a
maximum of 40% government participation. It is conceived as an integrated
multi-purpose deep-seaport complex and Free Trade Zone, Serving also as Oil
and Gas logistics base as well as Export Processing Zone. Based on the cost of
comparable projects elsewhere, Olokola Port/FTZ Project, when completed, is
estimated to cost between $350m and $400m.
Location Of The Project
The Port/FTZ project is to be located at an area referred to as Olokola,
Latitude 060 20’ North and Longitude 040 30’ East, on the Atlantic Coastline,
northwest or Escravos and Aiyetoro. Olokola is approximately 125km form
Escravos, midway between Escravos and Lagos, 45km east of Lekki-Lagos and
400km west of Onne (Port Harcourt). A 10,000-hectare expanse of land has
been acquired for the Port/FTZ. The Southern side of the site runs about 10km
along the shore of the Atlantic Ocean while uncultivated fields border the
Western, Eastern and Northern sides.
The principal town in the area is Araromi seaside. There is also an assortment
of small villages such as Osasogodomu, and Lokuta. The area is generally flat
with the expanse of land traversed by streams with the sandy beach overgrown
This essentially green-field site is presently largely undeveloped. However,
this situation will change as the public infrastructure development programmes
of the Federal Government, Ondo State Government, Ogun State Government
Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC) and the
Niger/Delta Development Authority (NDDC) are executed in the next few
years. The following are in the pipeline:
Roads: These include a multi-billion-naira highway from Igbokoda to Aiyetoro
and Araromi seaside on the coast. This will link with another highway from
Lekki via Odo Ogbo to Araromi Seaside in the vicinity of the Port/EPZ.
Waterways: Niger/ Delta Development Commission has commenced dredging of
the East/West Coastal waterways traversing Ogun, Ondo and delta States.
Electricity: Contract for extension of electric power supply to Araromi has
been awarded. (OSOPADEC) intends to extend electricity from Igbokoda to
Aiyetoro and westwards to join the Araromi line and then eastwards to traverse
other riverine areas.
Water: The State Government in partnership with NDDC intends to drill
boreholes to supplement other proposed viable water abstraction schemes.
• Out of Nigeria’ estimated coastline of 450 km, the eastern flank of about
200 km harbors active seaports, namely Calabar, Onne, Port-Harcourt
and Warri. Only the Lagos port serves the longer western flank.
• The only Oil and Gas Free Zone and major logistics base serving the
activities of the oil industry is at Onne Port Complex. This is far from the
majority of the country’s oil blocks situated offshore. Deep and Ultra
Deep water oil blocks including a substantial part of the Negeria/Sao
Tome Joint Development Zone are situated far west of Onne in the
estern flank of the Nigerian Coast.
• The two operational Free Trade Zones in the country are at Calabar and
Onne in the eastern flank of the country.
• An Oil and Gas free Zone and major logistics base in the western axis
will provide an alternate e to Onne and complement it in improving the
economics and operational responsiveness in the increasing and
expanding exploration and exploitation activities of Nigeria’s Oil and Gas
• Taken together, the western flank of Nigeria is under serviced by ports,
Oil and Gas Free Zone, major logistics bases and free Trade Zones. The
prevailing congestion in Lagos metropolis as a whole and the continuing
deterioration in infrastructure strongly suggest that Lagos alone cannot
adequately satisfy the needs of the western axis of the country.
Economic and Financial Viability
The critical issues in port planning, development and management are the
ability of a port to conveniently receive and effectively service ships calling at
the port at the least cost and in the shortest time.
• Preferred ports worldwide that distinguish themselves with their high
competitive profile are invariable ports with:
• Specialized/wide berths
• Berthing and access channel depths of at least 15m
• Spacious container yards
• Secure warehouses
• Specialized loading/offloading gantry cranes
• Adequate transportation infrastructure which ensure convenient
movement of goods into and from the port zone
• Efficient port operating systems handled by proactive port Management
Flowing from the prevailing conditions above, there is a compelling need for a
deep-sea port and FTZ as planned, on the western flank of the Niger Delta.
Since there is no deep-sea port along the West African Coast, a well-developed,
equipped and effectively managed deep-sea port of world-class standard,
serviced with good access roads, and properly marketed, will inevitably
become the West African hub port and trans-shipment terminal serving Nigeria,
the land-locked countries to the north of Nigeria and smaller coastal countries
along the West African Coast. Based on preliminary evaluation, the Free Trade
Zone is an attractive investment proposition. From the experience of relatively
small Onne Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone and Calabar Free Trade Zone, a well
planned FTZ of 10,000 hectares; well serviced with first class infrastructural
facilities and superior quality access roads linking inter state highways would
have comparative advantage.
Based on the considerations above, existing ports are not competitive. Apart
from the Lagos port, they are all small. All Nigeria ports have relatively
shallow depths, are congested and ill equipped, ill maintained and poorly
managed. These factors account for the poor services in the ports,
characterized by shipping delays, pilferage, uncompetitiveness, high tariffs and
long service turn-around times.
An eloquent manifestation of the non-competitiveness/unattractiveness of
Nigerian Ports is the significant and continuing increase in the importance of
Lome and Cotonou pots in Nigeria’s economic life.
With good quality private sector management and aggressive marketing, the
project would leverage the synergy of a strategic location with the incentives
of a Free Trade Zone combined with purpose built infrastructure to create a
safe, secured and prosperous business environment.