The Lekki Deep Sea Port in Lagos has received the first ship at its dock signaling a new era in port decongestion efforts in Nigeria.
The Managing Director, Nigeria Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello-Koko, who received the marine vessel “Zhen Hua 28,” a heavy lift carrier, stated that the Lekki Deep Seaport, when operational, would reduce ship waiting time by 50 to 60 per cent.
The Lekki Deep Seaport, designed to be a significant game-changer in Nigeria’s maritime economy and constructed by China Habour Engineering firm, is a $2 billion investment in the Lagos Free Trade Zone initiated by the Tolaram Group.
According to Koko, the cargo dwell time will also reduce by much more than 60 per cent when operations start before the end of the year.
He said the port has the capacity to handle and evacuate more cargoes, adding that the cargo clearing process would be faster courtesy of automation of the port.
“The successful delivery at the Lekki Deep Seaport of three Super Post Panamax state-of-the art Ship to Shore (STS) Cranes and 10 Rubber Tyred Gantries (RTG) is a testament to the unflinching commitment of NPA to providing the support necessary for placing Nigeria on the global list of countries with Deep Seaports.
Koko said: “The successful delivery of these very important equipment which are critical for the Lekki Deep Seaport to commence operations before the end of the year 2022 is a demonstration of our readiness to take trade facilitation a notch higher. This has been made possible by the tremendous backing of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Ministry of Transportation who have over the time played a key role from the initial construction stage and also granted fast tracked approval for this historic exercise.
“For us at the NPA, the coming on stream of Lekki 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 operationalization of not just the forthcoming Badagry, Ibom and Bonny Deep Seaports, but also of the reconstruction of the aged Tin-Can Port, where work is set to commence once we secure the necessary approvals from the Federal Ministry of Transportation and FEC, respectively.”
He stated 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 Organization to deploy the Port Community System (PCS), which will enable us respond squarely to the dictates of global trade facilitation and optimise the opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement to which Nigeria is signatory.”
The port has a natural depth of 16.5 metres, Quay Length of 680 metres, Breakwater of 1.909 metres, two Container Berths and Marine Services Jetty to handle containers, as well as liquid and dry bulk.
Lekki Deep Seaport is indeed equipped to improve Nigeria’s fortunes, as far as maritime trade is concerned. The Board Chairman, Lekki Port Lagos Free Trade Zones (LFTZ), Biodun Dabiri, said the Lekki port would begin to deliver Nigeria as a regional hub for maritime business.
“Now the vessel we just received is carrying some major cranes and those cranes will enhance the transformation business of the deep sea port. Now, the draft depth of this sea is about 16.5 meters and the vessel itself can only take about 14.5 meters, the implication of this is that there is nowhere in this country that this vessel can berth and that is what makes it historic.
“So, in terms of efficiency, when you talk of STS cranes, it means ship to shore which is devoid of manhandling, will just be automated. It is going to be fully automated. It is going to be really an efficient port and we believe it will transform the maritime business and make Nigeria a regional hub,” he vouched.
Dabiri commended the Federal Government through NPA, adding that they had been very supportive in the company’s quest to achieve the feat.