By ADAKU WALTER
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has said the successful berthing of MV Lady Jane, the largest container vessel with 50 per cent agricultural commodities at the West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) in Onne Port, Rivers State, has proved its readiness to consolidate on the gains of container vessel traffic in the eastern ports.
MV Lady Jane, with overall length of 295 metres and draft of 12 metres, berthed for the first time in Nigeria on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, at 3:00 p.m.
According to NPA, the historic landmark is that the vessel, which sailed from Majuro in the Marshall Islands, is discharging 840 TEUS and loading 1,060 TEUS, 50 per cent of which are agricultural commodities including cashew nuts, sesame seed and cassia tora seeds, among others.
This is coming on the heels of the reception at Onne Port of the first ever export-laden barge containing 120 TEUs of Cocoa to Belgium via Cotonou earlier this year.
While the berthing of the MV Maersk Stadelhorn, a 300 metres LOA container vessel on August 15, 2020, tested the navigability of the channel, MV Lady Jane has proven the capability of the channel for sustained container vessel traffic, NPA stated.
According to the authority, this is a testament to its unwavering resolve to promote exports and support the efforts of the Federal Government of Nigeria at positioning the non-oil sector as a revenue earner.
The authority said although the Onne Port Complex has traditionally been known as a logistics hub for oil and gas services, the implementation of fresh initiatives deployed by the Managing Director, Bello Koko’s administration resulted in a 30 per cent increase in container traffic at the end 2021, The Trumpet gathered.
Speaking to stakeholders, who came to welcome the vessel, Koko, who was represented by the Port Manager, Stanley Yitnoe, said the milestone signposted the fact that NPA’s initiatives geared towards repositioning the eastern ports for productivity were yielding positive results, adding that the Onne Port Complex was fast becoming an attraction for container vessels traffic.
“We cannot afford to rest on our oars, we must continually strive to surpass stakeholders’ expectations,” he said, and commended the pilots for the professionalism demonstrated through the effortless and safe berthing of the vessel.
He assured that in addition to the palliative works that have already begun on the arterial roads at the Onne Port, full-scale rehabilitation of infrastructure, improvement of port security through illumination and deployment of access control to check unauthorised entry, were top on management’s priority.