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Rivers port seeks to attract more vessels

By Sulaimon Salau
15 January 2020   |   4:11 am
For Onne Port to able to perform favourably with Lagos ports, the seaports requires dredging to about 11.5 meters to be able to receive larger vessels and thereby ease the pressure on Lagos Ports.

For Onne Port in Rivers State to attract more vessels and reduce congestion at Lagos ports, would require dredging to about 11.5 meters depth of water.

The terminal operator, Onne Port, said this would go a long way in helping the port as it continues to deliver quality services in its quest to meet the patronage of Lagos ports.

The West Africa Container Terminal (WACT), in Onne, has handled another large gearless containership deployed by leading Far Eastern shipping line, Pacific International Lines (PIL) to call at Onne Port, Rivers State.

This feat is coming, barely one month after handling its first gearless vessel and the largest containership to call at the port.

Before now, only the ports in Lagos were able to handle such class of vessels in Nigeria.

The PIL gearless vessel named KOTA KASTURI with a capacity of 3,081 TEU (twenty equivalent units of containers), berthed at WACT terminal, Onne Port, last Wednesday.

The Commercial Manager of WACT, Noah Sheriff, said the berthing of gearless containerships at the terminal supports the desire of Federal Government to open up ports outside the Lagos area to create new opportunities and possibilities for importers and exporters in the Eastern part of Nigeria.

He said: “Over the last few years, we reached out to NPA for the dredging of the channel because of increase in cargo volumes. They have been very supportive, and I believe that this year we will see dredging in Onne. That will enable us to take up to 11.5 metres draught vessels and handle much larger ships.

“The main value for bigger vessels calling at WACT is for the benefit of our customers. At the end of the day, it is for the cargo to get to the customer’s warehouse in the fastest possible time. With zero waiting time here in Onne, the bigger vessels will give the shipping lines opportunity to come with higher volume for us to handle, while customers can pick up their cargoes in a timely manner and go to the market,” he added.

Sheriff said WACT can handle gearless and large containerships in line with modern trend due to its investment in the acquisition of two Mobile Harbor Cranes (MHCs) worth $10 million and other sophisticated cargo handling equipment worth $4 million last year.

He said, “The significance of our ability to handle these large gearless vessels is that it is opening a new chapter for us such that in the future, more of these vessels will come to Onne. We are going to get four more cranes, so we will have six cranes here that will be able to handle such gearless vessels within the shortest vessel turnaround time.”

East Nigeria Manager for Pacific International Lines (PIL), James Joshua, said the shipping line deployed the vessel to Onne because of the availability of modern cargo handling facilities at WACT and to evaluate future deployment options.

“WACT now has the kind of equipment that can handle gearless vessels. Vessels with gear for us are only used on our rotation to West Africa, and if we have to use these vessels with gear, it limits a whole lot of opportunities. So, having the kind of equipment like Mobile Harbor Cranes that can actually operate on gearless vessels opens up many more possibilities for future growth,” Joshua said.

The Master of the Ship, Captain Zaw Zaw Mvo Oo, who was on his first call to Onne Port, said: “We came from China route to Singapore to Cairo then to West Africa. First place was Lome in Togo. The second place was supposed to be Lagos, which is Apapa and Tin Can, but because of the congestion, we came to Onne.”

Never get tired of doing little things to others, because sometimes those little things may mean so much to them.

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