Business activities amid fuel scarcity

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Despite the fuel scarcity in the country, the recent commissioning of the Lekki Deep Sea Port, Lagos Rice Mill at Imota, the 18.75km Eleko-Epe rigid pavement six-lane expressway, the first phase of the Blue Light Rail from Mile 2 to Marina, and the John Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History has remained a key factor in driving development in Lagos State. With infrastructure remaining a critical driver of growth and development, the Lekki Deep Sea Port, Nigeria’s largest seaport with a draught of 16.5m, is expected to support trade and commerce in Nigeria and the entire West African region. The 32-metric tonnes per hour Lagos Rice Mill at Imota-Ikorodu was also launched to produce rice for Lagos residents and possibly for export.

The intent to ease transportation in Lagos had led to the conceptualisation and eventual launch of the Lagos Blue Line Rail project, which is part of fulfilling the request for a multi-modal transport system in Lagos to ease traffic jams being experienced by Lagos residents. To maximise the benefits of these infrastructure and facilities, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) had stressed the need for connecting rail network that supports the movement of goods and persons to fully facilitate trade and commerce within the state and across the West African borders. With this connection, Eko Rice can easily move into the West African market to explore the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). With access to the African market, farmers in Lagos are encouraged to commit more investments into rice production, create more jobs, and provide more rice to beat the rising price of the product.

The Director-General of LCCI, Dr. Chinyere Almona has, however, lauded the Lagos State Government for its efforts at providing infrastructure for the state, which positively impact the economy, grow the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the state and that of Nigeria. “We urge finance development institutions to support rice farmers in Lagos to scale up their production capacity to meet local demands. LCCI encourages other state governments to provide the needed infrastructure to spur economic activities and growth in their states. We also call on the Federal Government to be sensitive to the massive private investments in various states and be more intentional in creating a stable policy environment. Policy summersault has remained one of the most damaging factors to investors’ confidence”, Dr. Almona stressed further.

Meanwhile, a social commentator, Engr. Tajudeen Olori, has thrown his weight behind fuel subsidy removal in the country, charging the government to provide effective and secured means of transportation to cushion its effects on Nigerians. According to him, corruption and lack of infrastructural development were hampering the development of the country, adding that the government needed to improve on security and provide effective transportation system before implementing subsidy removal by the end of June 2023. “Subsidy needs to be removed, there is no country that doesn’t have one or two things that they subsidised, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is trying to cut loses and any politician that says he or she will reverse the price is trying to deceive Nigerians”, he said. This is in reaction to the ugly trend of events in our business environment.

The guest stressed that the instability in the value of Naira as well as the unabated Russian-Ukrainian War had also contributed to fuel scarcity in the country, adding that the nation was producing, but not at the optimal level to meet the quota allocated to it as an oil producing nation. “Nigeria is producing, but we are not meeting the quota allocated to us as a nation due to insecurity and politics of crude oil for we are resorting to importation”, he added. Olori, however, reiterated that the government needed to be serious in reducing the effects of poverty by making transportation easier, cheaper and simpler for all Nigerians. “Government has no business doing business. We would not make any progress if the refineries are in the hands of the government for they have to be privatised”, he added.

Olori’s submission is akin to the intent the LASG to ease transportation that had led to the conceptualisation and eventual launch of the Lagos project, which is part of fulfilling the request for a multi-modal transport system in the nation’s foremost commercial city Lagos to ease traffic jams being experienced by residents. This has brought about  connecting rail network that aiding the movement of goods and persons to fully facilitate trade and commerce within the state and across the West African borders. An immediate benefit of this is the exploration of trade areas by making it possible for farmers and other business actors to commit more investments into creating more jobs and boosting local economies in view of the prevailing fuel crisis in the country. It is only hoped that in the coming days, something urgent would be done to address this fuel situation such that normalcy and life would be brought back to our nation.

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