Two years after it took over the National Arts Theater (NAT) for revamping, the Bankers Committee has said the cost of rehabilitating the national edifice as well its surrounding ecosystem would cost $100 million more than what was initially budget.
This is as exporters will now be encouraged to route their exports through the newly constructed port at the Lekki Free Trade Zone, in other to escape the challenges they currently face at the Apapa Port in Lagos. This was stated by the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, at the end of the recently concluded Bankers Committee retreat in Lagos.
Emefiele, whilst speaking on the progress made at the NAT, which recently hosted an international event said, although there has been a setback in the completion of the second phase of the project, the first phase is expected to be commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari alongside the blue line rail.
The CBN governor revealed that the plan is to complete the project with the balance of the Agri-Business Micro Small and medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMIES) fund. The fund is a collation of five per cent of profit after tax of banks towards funding small businesses. The second phase of the NAT rehabilitation is the development of the surrounding area of edifice for hubs focused on supporting emerging talent in the music, film, fashion, and IT sectors.
Emefiele had stated that “I must confess that when we started this project that both the phase one and phase two would be completed with $100 million. But unfortunately, when we took on the dimensions, the scope of projects, we found out that this was going to run through those $200 million.
“This is presently being funded from AGMSES fund and the bankers committee resolved that we would take the remaining part of that fund to complete this project because we believe that this is a viable project.”
Meanwhile, he said, there has been no remarkable response from state governments months after the Bankers Committee agreed to collaborate with them on rolling out export terminals. According to Emefiele, only Delta, Lagos and Ogun states had approached it for discussions. Thus, he said “we can’t wait for long gestation programs, we are looking at low hanging fruits because there is no time.
“We must make sure that those who want to conduct export activity should be able to do so with minimal problems. We are working with Lagos Lekki Ports which is currently going through pre-commissioning or test running who enjoyed some facilities from our banks through our intervention facility and all that.
“We will be talking to them about how we can use them at least for now given the congestion and Apapa and Tincan on how exporters can divert their cargo for export through the Lekki Port. “Our interest is that exporters conduct their activities in a very seamless manner. In the area of airports, we would be working with Ogun state government who has completed an air cargo export terminal for items to be airfreight.”