The commencement of commercial operations by Nigeria’s first deep seaport in Lekki in April 2023 opened up a fresh window of competition in port operations for the new port and the older ones in Apapa and Tin-Can Island.
After the new port commenced operations in 2023, operators of container terminals in Apapa and Tin-Can Island were forced to reposition the infrastructure within their terminals to be able to compete favourably.
This made the older ports to become more efficient, which translated to receiving bigger commercial vessels just like the new port to achieve economy of scale and cheaper freight for the cargo owners in Nigeria.
Here are some of the terminals that made history in 2023 with the berthing of bigger vessels in the period under review.
PTML receives MV Great Lagos
In December 2023, the largest container-roll-on-roll-off (RORO) ship to visit the West African Port made its first commercial voyage to Lagos with containerised cargo and vehicles for the Nigerian market.
The vessel, named MV ‘Great Lagos’, visited the Port Terminal Multipurpose Limited (PTML) in Tin-Can Island Port and was received on Monday, December 4, 2023.
Ascanio Russo, managing director of PTML, said the new ship is a marvel of modern engineering and environmental consciousness, stretching 290 meters in length with a beam of 38 meters and a weight of over 45,000 tonnes.
The ship can transport 4.7 kilometres of rolling freight, 2,500 Car Equivalent Units (CEUs), and 2,000 twenty equivalent units (TEUs) of containers. It is the second of the G5-class of ships recently launched by the Grimaldi Group and named after Nigeria’s commercial capital, which it has served for many decades.
APM Terminals’ Apapa berths Kota Cantik
Exactly on Friday, June 16, 2023, a vessel named Kota Cantik, owned by Pacific International Line, graced Nigerian water and made its way to Nigeria’s premier port in Apapa, operated by APM Terminals Apapa.
Designed with the capacity to carry up to 6,600 TEUs of containers at a move, the container carrier was made of a 300-meter Length Overall (LOA) and a breadth of 40 meters.
“We are excited at this historic achievement. We thank the Nigerian Ports Authority for maintaining the channels and for professionally piloting the vessel to the port. Without the effort, support, and approval of NPA, this would not have been possible,” Steen Knudsen, terminal manager of APM Terminals Apapa, said during the reception of the ship.
He said one of the advantages of bigger vessels is economies of scale through lower slot costs for consignees.
“Carrying a higher number of containers per vessel would translate into lower capital and operating costs per container, thereby reducing the transportation cost per unit. Bigger vessels are more environmentally friendly and contribute to lowering the total emissions of the shipping industry because they consume less fuel per container,” Knudsen said.
TICT receives MSC Maureen
Earlier in May 2023, the Tin-Can Island Container Terminal Ltd (TICT) received the MSC MAUREEN — the largest containership ever to berth at Lagos ports.
MSC Maureen operated by Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), came to Nigeria two weeks and three days after Lekki Port in April 2023 received CMA CGM Rabelais, the largest container vessel to have berthed in any Nigeria port as of that time.
Flagged by Panama, MSC MAUREEN is a 6,750 TEU ship with a draught of 12 meters, a length overall of 300 meters, and a beam of 40 meters.
Andrew Lynch, managing director of MSC Nigeria Limited, said the successful berthing of the ship will bring significant economic benefits to Nigeria.
He said in addition to the economies of scale that it will also boost Nigeria’s export drive as it will depart the shores of the country with export commodities meant for the international market.
“This feat will help us reduce costs and create economies of scale for importers and exporters. Tin-Can and Apapa ports remain very important for the Nigerian economy. So, if larger vessels come here, it will be a great benefit to everyone. This will make Lagos more competitive because the larger the vessel, the lower the freight rate for imports and exports,” Lynch said.
Lekki Port berths CMA CGM Rabelais
Also in May 2023, the CMA CGM Rabelais succeeded in setting a new record for the ports in Lagos Pilotage District, as being the largest vessel in ship dimensions to berth in the district, second only to the Total’s Egina FPSO.
The vessel has a 300-meter Length Overall (LOA) and the capacity to carry an impressive 6,570 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs).
Du Ruogang, the managing director of Lekki Port, this milestone attests to the readiness of the port to become a major hub for global trade and logistics, which is evident in its capacity to receive larger vessels.