The 1375-hectare Oluyole Free Zone in Oyo State is yet to start manufacturing activities about 18 years after the zone was designated as free.
Information sourced from the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) indicates that the zone, being developed by the Oyo State Government, has remained inactive since 2000 when the zone was designated free for manufacturing.
The apex regulatory body for free trade zones in Nigeria, NEPZA, stated that “physical development is yet to commence” at the Oluyole Free Zone.
Daily Trust found that there are 20 other free zones in the country that are inactive at the moment, some dating as far back as over a decade since designation.
To set up a free zone, the applicant, which the Act says, can be the federal government, state or private interest, will pay $1,000.00 or its naira equivalent to NEPZA as application fee and submit application letter, indicating interest to establish a zone and its location, and relevant documents.
NEPZA officials will inspect the site; recommend for approval to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and the minister will pass the recommendation to the president for final approval.
The approval or comments from presidency will be communicated back to the investor by NEPZA and the investor is expected to commence development of the zone.
In 2004, Olokola Free Trade Zone, located in Ondo and Ogun states, as well as Oils Integrated Logistics Services Free Zone, located in Lagos State, were designated, but 14 years after, they are still inactive.
The 10,500-hectare Olokola Free Trade Zone is being developed jointed by the states and private interests for oil and gas manufacturing, but NEPZA said the project has remained “under construction” in over a decade since being designated.
Similarly, the 1,000-hectare Integrated Logistics Services Free Zone being developed by Private Oil Field Industry Support Service Limited, for marine, logistics, support services had its operational licence suspended and has remained inactive.
In 2006, Ibom Science and Tech FZ and Living Spring Free Zone covering 122.137 hectares and 1607.86 hectares respectively were designated to be developed by Akwa Ibom and Osun states respectively.
Twelve years after, Ibom Science and Tech FZ, proposed for science and technology, is still “under construction”, while Living Spring Free Zone, proposed for manufacturing, trading and warehouse, is also “under construction.”
In 2007, the government designated 702 hectares for the Abuja Tech Village Free Zone, 304 hectare for Brass LNG Free Zone, Ogun-based Specialised Railway Industrial FTZ and 1399 hectares for Imo Guangdong FTZ for science & technology, liquified natural gas, rail cargo transport and manufacturing respectively.
Eleven years after, Abuja Tech Village Free Zone, being developed by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), remains under construction, and development is yet to commence at Brass LNG Free Zone, meant to be developed by the Federal Government and private interests.
The Ogun State Government is also yet to commence the development of the Specialised Railway Industrial FTZ, the same with the Imo State Government that is yet to start work at Imo Guangdong FTZ.
In 2009, Kwara Free Trade was designated on 356 hectares for trading and warehousing, but nine years after, the Kwara State Government is yet to begin any physical development on the zone. This is similar to the situation of the Koko Free Trade Zone, designated same year, which ought to sit on 2327 hectares.
Similarly, no physical development has started on Ibom Industrial Free Zone, designated in 2012 for manufacturing, oil and gas and trading services.
NEPZA also listed five free zones designated in 2014 as inactive and under construction: 531-hectare Badagry Creek Integrated Park, for fabrication; 2506-hectare Ogindigbe Gas Revolution Industrial Park (GRIP), and the 1,000-hectare Nigeria International Commerce city being developed by Eko Atlantic FZ ltd for financial institutions leisure, real estate, shopping malls, corporate business and commerce.
Others are 52-hectare Ogogoro Industrial Park for oil and gas, fabrication, oil and gas vessels and logistics and 1264-hectare Centenary City, for leisure, real estate, shopping malls, corporate business and commerce.
The 2771-hectare Ondo Industrial City and 419-hectare Enugu Industrial Park approved in 2015 are still under construction just like the recent 72-hectare Tomaro Industrial Park in Lagos approved in 2017, for shore-based activities mostly in oil and gas sector.
NEPZA record showed that the active free zones include Sebore Farms EPZ in Adamawa State, ALSCON EPZ in Akwa Ibom State, Calabar Free Trade Zone (CFTZ) in Cross River State, Maigatari Border Free Zone in Jigawa State, Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone and Kano Free Trade Zone (KFTZ) in Kano State.
Six are active Lagos State: Airline Services EPZ, Ladol Free Zone, Lagos Free Trade Zone, Lekki Free Zone, Nigeria Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) and Snake Island Integrated Free Zone.
The Managing Director of NEPZA, Mr Emmanuel Jime, reportedly said less than 14 out of Nigeria’s 34 Free Trade Zones (FTZs) were operating actively. He attributed the inactivity of most of the zones to infrastructure challenges, including lack of power supply.
“For you to be able to operate your business at less cost, it means that there would be certain things in the FTZs that you will not find elsewhere. We are talking of infrastructure. There has to be power in the FTZs 24/7, otherwise it is not a FTZ. You must have water running, roads and everything a company needs for it to run at less cost,” he said.