Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has called for public-private sector collaboration in developing exterior infrastructure where Free Trade Zones (FTZs) are located.
Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, NEPZA Managing Director, made the call during a tour of Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zones, located in Igbesa, near Ota in Ogun State.
In a statement issued on Thursday by Mr Martins Odeh, Head, Corporate Communications, NEPZA, Adesugba said that the collaboration would ameliorate the challenges of transportation logistics faced by enterprises operating in the FTZs.
The NEPZA Chief Executive said that free trade zones across the country could function adequately if outside infrastructure such as good road, railway and electricity were in place.
He said that this was easily possible through public-private sector resource marshalling.
Adesugba said that this would bridge the infrastructure gap in the sector, noting that no investment made to sustain FTZs development would be a waste.
The NEPZA boss specifically called on the Ogun State government to consider the reconstruction of the Ibara-Igbesa road to ease the movement of people and goods in and out of the zone.
According to him, indigenes of the state are presently benefiting from the zone that has so far engaged over 6,000 workers from the state.
“Ogun Guangdong free trade zone, which is jointly owned by the Ogun State government and Guangdong in China, was licensed in 2008 and commenced operations in 2009.
“The business enclave sits on 2000 hectares of land with 76 registered enterprises.
“The zone provides Ogun State and the country a huge opportunity for job creation and economic growth. In the light of this, NEPZA, operators and other stakeholders must ensure the place is looked after.
“The success of that zone is a glory to the state, NEPZA and Nigerians,’’ Adesugba said.
He said the authority was working hard to widen the scope of the knowledge and understanding of the concept of the free trade zone among the populace, and the cooperation of other relevant agencies was necessary to solve the problem of illegal toll collection from operators in the zone.
The NEPZA managing director reiterated that free trade zone was a unique business space that promoted free tax regime and free customs duties, apart from other incentives meant to attract enterprises and investors.
He promised to assess the challenges impeding smooth operations, saying the Authority would not hesitate in intervening in order to arrest the reported encroachment of the zone’s property.
“As for the land encroachment, we shall work with the Ogun State government to stop the ugly trend. We are also going to set up Investment Promotion and Investors Services to be proactive in responding to the needs of operators,’’ he said.
In a related development, Adesugba expressed delight in the infrastructural development in the Lagos Free Trade Zone being carried out by Tolaram.
“The decision of the zone to commence the development of medical and pharmaceutical clusters is similar to NEPZA’s disposition toward using the zones to strengthen the health sector.
“This will attract world class hospitals that can act as substitutes to the ones abroad. We want to ensure that medical tourism is significantly reduced,’’ he said.