The Nigerian Ports Authority yesterday announced the successful berthing at Onne of a container vessel said to be the biggest to ever call at any Nigerian ports.
The vessel, Maerkline Stardelhorn described as a flag ship was received at the Federal Ocean Terminal [FOT], Onne in Rivers state at 16:20 hours on Saturday. Maerkline Stardelhorn said to have departed from Singapore, according to NPA has a length overall of 300 meters and 48 meters wide with a capacity of 9,971 Twenty – foot Equivalent Units [TEUs].
This success story is not unconnected with the effort of Ms. Hadiza Bala – Usman, Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority who generated the idea of attracting vessels to the Eastern Ports to among others, decongest the Apapa Port in Lagos State. The FG agency in charge of Nigerian Ports conceeded 10% as discount to harbor dues in all concession terminals in the first quarter of 2019.
Specifically, the statement stated that the Ports that will benefit from this rebate are those in Cross River, Rivers and Delta states. It further explained that discount will only apply to harbor dues payable by certain categories of vessels and cargoes, excluding INBALLAST.
And cognizant of imminent bubby traps that may shadow this vision, the maritime agency embarked on providing critical infrastructures at the designated ports in the Eastern corridor.
The remedial measures executed so far by the Organisation spans dredging as in Warri port as well as providing critical equipment and gadgets needed for ease of operation at the ports.
In 2019, the maritime agency deployed equipment worth over $30 million in Onne port situated on the Bonny River Estuary along Ogu creek. And in addition, got six pilot cutters, tug boats and 17 – meter offshore patrol boats. The measure was to boost efficiency and security thereby making the port attractive for business.
It would be recalled that the Lens Newspapers publication of October 9, 2019 carried a front page story on the arrival of a containerized cargo vessel in Calabar Port. The vessel, MV Boreas which arrived in September 2019 and described as maiden voyage is said to have opened the flood gate for calls to Calabar Port after over eleven years of stoppage of containership service by the two major shipping lines that operated on the Calabar route. The port is now experiencing increase in traffic. Only last month it was reported that two more container Ships called back to back at Calabar Port.