By Samson Echenim
Sifax Group, one of Nigeria’s leading conglomerates, has ventured into the financial sector with a new subsidiary, Sky Capital and Allied Company Limited, even as it invests €18 million (about N7.2 billion) in acquiring equipment for its port operations.
Operator of Ports & Cargo Ltd, the largest indigenous container terminal at Tin Can Island Port in Lagos, Sifax is spending the N7.2 billion to acquire four cranes to boost its port operations and maintain its lead in containership handling.
Adekunle Oyinloye, group managing director of the company said at the Sifax Group mid year press conference, the new ventures and investments were part of a five-year strategic growth plan of the company which also runs a leading aviation handling company, SAHCOL.
Oyinloye said the new Sky Capital and Allied Company Limited, established to primarily form basic source of financing the group, handles financial services including bureau de change services and and asset management services among other related services.
According to the group’s chief executive, Sifax will also in 2020 launch its five – star hotel currently under construction in Ikeja Lagos, as well as open a new terminal at the Warri Port in Delta State as part of the five-year strategic plan of the company.
“The Sifax Group has as well increased it’s number of bonded terminals with a recent partnership with Mid Maritime Bonded Terminal in Apapa and another expansion at the Okota Bonded Terminal. We will soon be receiving big ocean liners at our Warri terminals, ‘ Oyinloye said.
”The group is also maintaining its lead in aviation business in Nigeria with Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) which as you know, has been quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. The company was established 10 years ago and it is now dominating the skyline around the airport.
“The group has brought new hands onboard into its management, and it has carried out a lot of restructuring plan to position itself ahead of what will happen in the maritime industry for the next five years,’ he hinted.
Oyinloye however noted that the containership arm of the group, Ports & Cargo Ltd recorded a lower volume of containers as a good number of Nigerian importers use the neighbouring Port of Cotonou, due to poor access roads to the Lagos Port.
“For the second half of the year, we believe access in and out of the port might improve for the rest of the year and turn around would be better and increase business volume.
“We are paying in taxes to the federal government, state and local governments in millions of naira. We are happy paying it as a responsible organization, but we want government to see this as our own contribution towards the growth of the economy as well, we are one of the biggest tax payers around here and we would be more proud if we see the impact of this tax on the streets, schools, hospitals and every socio infrastructure that touches life of Nigerians” he said
Also speaking at the conference, managing director of Ports and Cargo Terminal, John Jenkins disclosed that four new cranes acquired at the cost of 4.5 million euro each will arrive the country in the next few months.
The cranes, he said, were acquired to complement five existing ones, bringing to nine the number of such cranes acquired by the terminal.
He said, “These four cranes will help improve our performance and turn around for vessels. They were acquired at the cost of about 4.5 million euro each and they will arrive the country in few months time.”
He however lamented that poor access roads to the port has affected the Ports and Cargo Terminal productivity in the first quarter of the year. He advised that the federal government should link the Tin Can Island Port to the rail network for easy evacuation of cargoes.
“Our major challenge remains lack of access roads to and from the port, we wish the roads can be speedily restored because that was the pride of our port at one point. A number of our consignment that spend some extra days at the port have no reason to be there if the roads were good, delivery would have been smoother, transfer would have been smoother.
“We wish the government would also think beyond the road and link Tin Can Port by rail. This again would make evacuation a bit easier. On our part, we are ready to play any role that the government wants us to play to make all these happen.
“It is quite a shame that some ports in the coast of West Africa are now taking shine off the Nigerian port, if you go to Lome port now in Togo, it is a hub, I wish that Nigeria as big in size and economy that we are, should be the hub for West and Central Africa”
He however observed government’s in putting back the port access roads in shape, even as he assured that Sifax Group is ready to support government to ensure Nigeria retains it’s pride of place in Africa.