- Seeks FG’s support in security, overtime cargo, port roads
The West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) has boosted cargo handling operation and efficiency at the Onne Port in Rivers State with two new state-of-the-art Mobile Harbour Cranes (MHCs) and two Reach Stackers worth $15 million.
The additional container handling equipment brings to four the MHCs deployed so far and will further improve the quick turnaround time for vessels calling at WACT, and advance its vision of becoming the ‘Gateway to Eastern Nigeria’.
Managing Director of WACT, Mr. Aamir Mirza, said “this vision can be achieved much earlier if the government can support us by addressing some fundamental challenges like security, because of piracy, clearance of overtime containers, improving roads and related infrastructure that connect Onne Port to the rest of Nigeria.”
Mirza, who spoke at the commissioning, disclosed that the equipment was part of the terminal’s $100 million investment announced in 2019 to significantly increase its capacity.
“Our equipment and infrastructure upgrade are the key enablers for WACT to better serve her customers. Our cranes shall offer improved and higher productivity, which means shorter port stay of vessels, resulting in savings to our liner customers,” he said.
“We are now able to handle the next generation and larger gearless vessels. This investment will include the deployment of reefer racks with 600+ plugs, a new workshop, larger powerhouse and 20 Rubber Tyred Gantry (RTG) cranes. All of this will result in more efficient operations and enable customers to take delivery of their cargo much earlier.”
Mirza noted that with the massive investment at the terminal, WACT has established itself as the largest and most efficient container terminal in Eastern Nigeria, and has created 2,950 direct and indirect jobs.
The Comptroller-General of Customs, represented by the Assistant Comptroller General, Zone C, Elton Edorhe, noted that “modern customs is concerned about trade facilitation around the world.
“The deployment of these cranes will mean efficiency. More containers will be brought in and handled proficiently, and that will increase revenue generation to the Federal Government coffers through Customs.
“Trade facilitation is all encompassing. It is not only for one organisation. Every stakeholder must be involved. So, we are happy that WACT is doing their part by investing more and commissioning these new equipment.”
Similarly, the General Manager, Operations and Technical, Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA), Mr. Ajayi Adekunle, noted that WACT “in the last couple of years, WACT has demonstrated that our corporate objective of taking investments in the free zone to the next level is being achieved.
“The acquisition of these additional MHCs and Reach Stackers is remarkable given the serious setback that the coronavirus has brought to businesses in the free zone and the country.
“This commissioning ceremony represents an important private sector contribution to the effort of the government to diversify and strengthen the national economy through the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.”
WACT started commercial operations in 2006 as the first Greenfield container terminal in Nigeria to be built under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, and has grown to become the most efficient gateway to markets outside the Lagos area.