By Steve Agbota, Lagos

Ahead of the commencement of operations in September, the $1.5 billion Lekki Deep Seaport, on Friday, received its first-ever vessel with three Ship To Shore (STS) cranes and ten Rubber Tyred Gantry (RTG) cranes to make Nigeria a maritime hub in West and Central Africa.

The vessel, which arrived at the port at exactly 1:29 pm and carried some major cranes will enhance the transformation business of the deep seaport.

Speaking shortly after the vessel berthed with the cranes, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko said that the successful delivery today of these three state-of-the-art Ship to Shore (STS) Cranes and ten Rubber Tyred Gantries (RTG) very important equipment, which are critical to the commencement of operations of the Lekki Deep Seaport is historic as it moves the country a step closer to birthing Nigeria’s first Deep Seaport.

According to him, the delivery of the equipment also demonstrates Nigeria’s readiness to take trade facilitation a notch higher, adding that the commitment of the NPA 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 operationalization 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 symbolizes 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 added.

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He reiterated that automation remains the most veritable tool for assuring Port efficiency, adding that the NPA is working assiduously under the technical guidance of the International Maritime Organization to deploy the Port Community System (PCS), which will enable Nigeria to 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 a 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,” he added.

Earlier, the Chairman of Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited, Mr Abiodun Dabiri, said the arrival of the vessel is historic and it would begin to deliver Nigeria as a regional hub for maritime business.

“Now the vessel we are just received now 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 means 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 crane, it means ship to shore, which is devoid of manhandling, you know, it will just be automated. It’s going to be fully automated. It’s gonna be really efficient port, what are we believe it will transform, you know the maritime business and make Nigeria as a regional hub.

“So for us in terms of economic whatever ingredients you’re talking about in terms of growth of GDP, is it diversification of foreign exchange? Is it the creation of employment? Is it adding value to people’s lives and prosperity around this business around this commodity,” he explained.

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