The West Africa Container Terminal (WACT), has said at the weekend that it received Maersk’s first direct service containership from the Far East to the Onne Port in Rivers State.
The gearless ship named KYPARISSIA with a capacity of 4,800 Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEUs), was brought to Onne Port by Maersk under its FEW3 service and is the first Maersk vessel to visit Onne Port without first calling at any port in Lagos.
Noah Sheriff, commercial manager of WACT, said, the long-awaited FEW3 service, which is a direct service from the Far East into Eastern Nigeria has started, and ‘we are here to witness the first call’.
“With our Mobile Harbour Cranes operations, we are positioned to handle such gearless vessels calling our facility. The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) initiative to bring larger vessels into other ports is aligned with our Phase 2 terminal upgrade project, which will see our number of Mobile Harbour Cranes and other container handling equipment increased by third quarter of this year,” he said.
According to him, this new service will not only call WACT Onne weekly but would also bring the benefit of a short transit time for cargo coming from the Far East to Eastern Nigeria.
He described the new service as a product many customers have been asking, which WACT would ensure that the vessels are turnaround quickly.
Chibuzor Ejiofor, East Nigeria Manager of Maersk Nigeria Limited, said the ship call is historic and will benefit the businesses in eastern Nigeria.
“We need to create awareness to the coming of KYPARISSIA not because she’s one of the largest vessels that ever called Onne, but she is the first Far East vessel that will be calling Onne without calling Lagos ports first,” she stated.
She said that Maersk decided to put Onne on a direct service from the Far East, and that doesn’t mean that Maersk doesn’t call Lagos because “We are still calling Tin-Can and Apapa but that is on another service altogether. We now have a service that comes all the way from the Far East to Onne without calling Lagos.”
According to her, “So, for Onne based customers, I think that’s something to be really attractive as it adds value to your business. You can get your cargo on time directly from the Far East without adding 30 days of Lagos waiting time. You can turn around your money, your products and that’s why we are here just to recognise this unique offering to our customers.”
Ismaila Al-Hassan, Port Manager, Onne Port, who was represented at a brief reception for the gearless vessel by Prince Zhattau, port’s Traffic Manager, described Maersk’s direct service to the port as a welcome development as it will help in decongesting Lagos ports.
WACT, which has become the most preferred container terminal outside the Lagos area, is fast gaining a reputation as the gateway to Eastern Nigeria and as the alternative to the ports in Lagos. The terminal has also been handling gearless vessels, which previously could only be handled at the ports in Lagos.
Since 2019, WACT after spending USD14 million in its Phase 1 upgrade to acquire modern cargo equipment including two Mobile Harbour Cranes, 14 specialised terminal trucks and two reach stackers has gained capacity to handle gearless vessels. The investment brought high operational efficiency and set WACT apart from other ports in Nigeria.
However, the terminal operator said recently that it is set to deploy new cranes consisting of three additional Mobile Harbour Cranes (MHCs) to bring the number of MHCs at the terminal to five; acquire 20 Rubber Tyre Gantry Cranes (RTGs) and three Reach Stackers in its Phase 2 upgrade within the next 18 months.