The Federal Government says Nigeria has engaged some West African countries on how to make the country a transhipment hub for the continent.
The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Muhammed Bello-Koko, said this on Friday while commissioning two tug boats, MT Maikoko and MT DA-Opukuro, in Apapa, Lagos.
He added that the tug boats would be moved to the Lekki Deep Seaport.
The NPA boss also announced that in the coming weeks, Nigeria should be able to commence transhipment of cargoes to some West African countries.
He stated, “About two weeks ago, we had a meeting with officials from Chad, Niger Republic and Cameroon and the idea was to see how we can start moving their cargoes from Nigeria to their ports. They were looking for a port that would reduce waiting time for cargoes. These tug boats that were commissioned will help us achieve our aim of turning the port into a transhipment hub.”
Bello-Koko expressed confidence that the county would start witnessing transhipment cargoes in a few weeks.
He added, “I know that transhipment cargoes should come to Lekki maybe in the next three weeks. With this tug boat we will tug in no matter the size of the ship. This means we will take back businesses in neighbouring countries and the cargo going to other countries will come back.”
He noted that the two tug boats were the largest in Africa, adding, “Permit me to seize this opportunity to reiterate that our drive towards deploying Lekki Deep Seaport as launch pad for transshipment remains unwavering and this event today is confirmation of our doggedness on this noble cause.”
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani, said the tug boats would help to optimise operations at the Lekki Deep Seaport.
Ajani said, “The make and capacity 80-ton bollard pull tug boat is the first in Africa and you can use them for very large vessels. It also has a 360-degree rotational capacity. So trying to navigate any vessel in any direction won’t be a problem with this particular tug boat.”
Ajani said with this, the country had shown seriousness to optimise the opportunities inherent in the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, which Nigeria was a signatory to.
She said for the country to maximise the huge potential in the sector, there was the need to invest in technology.
The permanent secretary commended the NPA management for the project, saying this was the kind of efficiency the ministry supports its agencies to entrench in the polity.
Ajani added, “By being the first in Africa to acquire these 2813 models of Damen’s ASD neoteric 80 tons bollard pull tug boats, the NPA has accentuated the determination of the Federal Ministry of Transportation to boost port operational efficiency.”