Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has urged collaborative effort of the public and private sectors to develop outside infrastructure where Free Trade Zones are located in a bid to ameliorate the challenges of transportation logistics faced by enterprises operating in the zones.
Adesugba said this during his scheduled tour of Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zones located in Igbesa, near Ota in Ogun State.
The NEPZA Chief Executive explained that free trade zones across the country only could function adequately if outside infrastructure such as good road, railway and electricity were in place.
He said the public and private sectors could jointly pull their resources together to bridge the gap in infrastructure deficit, adding that no investment made to sustain free trade zones 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.
Adesugba also 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, adding that the cooperation of other relevant agencies of government was needed to solve the problem of extortion and illegal toll collections 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, adding that the scheme also had other incentives meant to attract enterprises and investors respectively.
Adesugba, however, promised to assess all of the challenges impeding smooth operations in the zone, adding that 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 been carried out by Tolaram.
He explained that it was great deal that the zone had 17 registered enterprises with US 20 billion investment profile.
Adesugba said the decision of the zone to commence the development of medical and pharmaceutical clusters was similar to NEPZA’s disposition toward using the zones to strengthen the health sector by attracting world class hospitals that could act as substitutes to the ones abroad.
``We want to ensure that medical tourism is significantly reduced,’’ he said.