By Chinonye Anyatonwu
Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello-Koko has commended the management of the Lekki Deep Seaport over the successful berthing of its first vessel, MV Zhen Hua 28, ahead of the December, 2022 scheduled date for commencement of operation, saying that achieving this feat demonstrated Nigeria’s preparedness for trade facilitation.
The heavy lifter carrier vessel, with a draft of 14.5metres and gross tonnage of 40015, owned by Shanghai Zhenhua Port Machinery (Hong Kong) Co Limited and operated by Shanghai Zhehua Shipping Co. Limited, the vessel sailed all the way from Hong Kong, China to the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos, and was laden with three state-of-the art ship to shore STS cranes and 10 Rubber Tyred Gantries RTG.
Speaking at a brief ceremony to officially receive the vessel in Lagos Friday, the Managing Director also urged the Lagos State Government to expedite action on the construction of Coastal Road, Ibeju-Lekki, the major access road to the port to facilitate easy and hitch-free movement of cargo in and out of the seaport.
According to him, the arrival of the cranes, which are crucial to the commencement of operations at Nigeria’s first deep seaport and the first fully automated seaport at take-off, is an indication that the country is prepared to take trade facilitation to the top.
He also noted that the feat is dear to the NPA, as it moves the country nearer joining the global league of maritime nations with deep seaports, which would also enable her attain the hub port status within the West and Central African sub-region.
Still speaking, “The successful delivery today of these three state-of-the art ship to shore cranes and 10 Rubber Tyred Gantries very important equipment which are critical to the commencement of operations of the Lekki Deep Seaport is historic, as it moves us a step closer to birthing Nigeria’s first deep seaport and also demonstrates our readiness to take trade facilitation a notch higher”.
“The commitment of the Nigerian Ports Authority to providing every support necessary to place Nigeria on the global list of countries with deep seaports is unflinching.
This is why matters related to the operationalisation of Lekki Deep Seaport before the end of this year have been placed on top priority.
“For us at the NPA, the coming on stream of Lekki Deep Sea Port symbolises a lot of positives. Apart from being Nigeria’s first deep seaport, Lekki Port will also be the first fully automated port at take-off. This provides an insight into the path we are already toeing as a management team to govern the operationalisation of not just the forthcoming Badagry, Ibom and Bonny Deep Seaports, but also of the reconstruction of the aged Tin Can Island Port, where work is set to commence once we secure the necessary approvals from the Federal Ministry of Transport and the Federal Executive Council FEC respectively.
“Let me reiterate that automation remains the most veritable tool for assuring port efficiency, and as most of us are aware, the NPA is working assiduously under the technical guidance of the International Maritime Organisation to deploy the Port Community System PCS, which will enable us respond squarely to the dictates of global trade facilitation and optimize the opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area AfCFTA Agreement to which Nigeria is signatory.
“Our strategic intent of becoming the maritime logistics hub for sustainable ports services in Africa rests heavily on how well we are able deepen our efficiencies through a
construction of deep seaports in order to leverage the concomitant benefits of economies of scale.
On this note distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I would like to say a big congratulation to all stakeholders on this milestone and wish us greater strides as we push the envelope of trade facilitation.”
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the port, Biodun Dabiri, in an earlier welcome address, noted that the idea of establishing the deep seaport was conceived about 13 years ago as part of efforts to make Nigeria as a major maritime nation.
He noted that it was a matter of joy that such projection was being achieved with the delivery of operational equipment at the port, which points to the fact that the dream is about to be fulfilled.
He thanked the Federal Government through the NPA for its supports, the Lagos State Government and indeed other stakeholders, who have helped in one way or the other to make it a dream come true.
It was gathered that the port is expected to take delivery of more of such equipment comprising a second batch of three STC and RTG cranes, expected to arrive in September this year as well as a third batch of such equipment, which are expected to arrive the country sometime in December, 2022.
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