Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Group Executive Vice Chairman, SIFAX Group, has explained the rationale behind SIFAX Group’s proposed investment in Gambia. He noted that the desire to contribute meaningfully to the rebuilding of the country’s economy was responsible for the inroad being made into the West African country.
The SIFAX Group boss made this known during the courtesy visit and facility inspection tour of Ports & Cargo Handling Services Limited, one of the subsidiaries of the company by Mrs. RoheyMalick Lowe, first female Mayor of Banjul, the capital of Gambia recently. Lowe’s visit is part of the build-up to the SIFAX Group’s multi-million dollar investment in The Gambia.
According to Afolabi, the country is just emerging into a new dawn and deserves all the support it could get. He said: “Gambia has a new leadership who is willing to open up the country for foreign investment so the economy could be developed. I believe so much in the economic growth and development of the continent by Africans. Africans should be a major stakeholder in the economic transformation of Africa. The new president has also promised an enabling environment that is conducive and inviting.
“Aside, before we ventured into this, I personally embarked on a research to find out about the country. Of all the African countries we have visited to do business recently, The Gambia offers a unique business proposition that seeks to keep investors business running with good returns on investments.
“We want to replicate the successes of our business models here in Gambia too. Our 30 years’ experience in the maritime industry will be very useful in building the economy of Gambia. Our promise is that the country’s economy will feel our impact as we don’t intend to limit our interventions to the maritime sector alone. We have identified other key areas we will be willing to invest in the nearest future.”
In her response, Rohey Malick Lowe, the visiting Mayor commended Ports & Cargo Handling Services for its giant strides in the Nigeria’s maritime sector.
Lowe, who was obviously impressed by the state-of-the-art facilities at the terminal, urged the company to bring same positive effect to her country. “I must commend Ports & Cargo for a job well done. I am very impressed. So many critics back in Gambia are skeptical of SIFAX Group’s capacity to handle the job, but with what I have seen today, there is no doubt that the company can successfully transform our economy. I am going back to Gambia to propagate the gospel of SIFAX Group brand back home,” she said.
Lowe thanked Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, who conducted her round the terminal, and management team for the opportunity and said the tour has added to her wealth of knowledge.
SIFAX Group, a multinational corporation with diverse interests in Maritime, Aviation, Haulage & Logistics, Oil & Gas and Hospitality, has commenced ferry service operations from its newly-concessioned terminal, Ebute Ojo Jetty, in Ojo Local Government Area of LagosState.
Two 30-passenger capacity ultra-modern boats have been deployed for these operations.
The ferry service operates on Ebute Ojo-Apapa (Liverpool) and Mile 2 (Capital Oil Jetty) – Apapa routes from 7am to 7pm every week day while charter services are also available everyday for private individuals and fun seekers who want to explore the Lagos water fronts.
According to Captain Olugbade Ibrahim, Managing Consultant to SIFAX Ferry Terminal, Ojo, the desire to increase transport options for commuters and to support the efforts of the Lagos State government to develop the state’s water transportation sector, accounted for the new venture.
He said: “We are conscious of adding value and bring new innovations to the waterway business. Our business goals and objectives are well aligned with that of the Lagos State Government in the massive development of the waterways. This has prompted us to acquire these two ferries, which we are starting with, as we have plans to increase the number soon. The ferries we use are the same with what is obtainable in advanced countries. It is safe, fast, convenient, spacious, durable and manned by experts with tested experience. Our onboard safety procedure is excellent.”
Speaking further, Olugbade noted that the ferry service alongside other facilities at the terminal would passengers excellent customer service experience, which is the hallmark of the SIFAX Group brand.
“The two boats that service the Ebute-Ojo ferry terminal to Apapa and Mile 2 have 500 horse power engines each. As a company that is safety conscious, we have acquired the best brand of life jackets too. Inflight entertainment is also guaranteed for our customers that come on board. We have excellent customer service personnel to also attend to customer’s complaints and suggestions too. In no time, we will add more ferries and open up more routes across Lagos waterways. We also want to make the service first class. The terminal building itself will be equipped with wi-fi, eateries and also banks,” he said.
While corroborating Olugbade’s position, Mr. John Jenkins, Group Managing Director, SIFAX Group,said the company’s massive investment in the water transportation is part of the overall strategic plan of SIFAX Group to deepen its commitment in the country’s transport sector, thereby, providing more jobs, solving a social problem, supporting government’s initiative and helping grow the country’s economy.”
Some of the commuters interviewed gave kudos to SIFAX Group for the initiative and urged the company to increase its fleet without delay in order to take care of the expected surge in traffic.