By Elizabeth Chukwuma
In spite of the low volume of cargoes traffic at the nation’s seaports as a result of the Wuhan Town in Hebe i Province of the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular, COVID 19,Hajia Bala Usman, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, appears set for the post COVID 19 era.
Hajia Usman, who is optimistic that there will be large Containerised vessels from the Asian country of China and other parts of the world calling at the Lagos the ports of Apapa and the Tincan, through the Lagos pilotage district during the COVID 19 era, may have informed why the Authority under her close watch has resorted to the acquisition of new tug boats to meet the demand of big ocean going vessel owners.
Given an insider information about the newly acquired Damen 2810 model tug boats, MT. Musawa and MT.Ikoro Ekiti, the NPA, Managing Director , disclosed that the Tug boats, will ‘’enhance the reliability and maneuvering of large capacity vessels calling at the nation’s ports to berth and un-berth. She noted that the Tug boats were built with a Length Over All, LOA,28.77m, Breath Over All, BOA, 10 4m and 4.9 m draft.
The tug boats which were built by the Damen Shipyard, according to her were built under Lioyds Classification Society Standards and powered by the twin MTU engines to attain a speed of 13 knots. She disclosed that the power produced by the twin engine will enable the tugboats to produce 60 ton stern drive pull maximum bollard and 58.7 ton, for towing operations.
The Authority may have gone for the expensive Damen tug boats which are used in towing Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG, vessels, because she has the latest hull and skeg designs. This is in addition to having rigid foundations, extra plate thickness, extra brackes and extra fendering.
This should gladden the heart of vessel owners and other stakeholders in the nation’s maritime sector that the tug boats which are equipped with fire fighting machines will serve their need. The acquisition the two new tug boats, She had said has boasted the agency fleet to six, which will ultimately affect the turn- around of vessels at the ports positively .
It could not be ascertained the cost of acquiring the Damen 2810 tug boats but an insider told The Value News that the cost of the two Damen tug boats are, within the range of the four tugboats acquired by the agency in 2017 because of the Capacity to tow large vessels. The four tug boats ,MT. Daura, MT.Ubim, MT.Uromi and MT.Majiya,, that were purchased at the cost of about $30 million or N6 billion in 2017.
An elated Hajia Usman, had said that the Authority resolve to invest on new equipment was basically ‘’to prepare the agency for the exigencies of the increasingly Competitive global maritime space’’.
The NPA Managing Director who could not hide her feelings stressed that despite the fact that the country has adopted the landlord model of port ownership as part of the 2006 port reforms initiated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the agency has not neglected its statutory functions as it is still committed’’ to deliver with efficiency at all times’’.
The agency functions which include the administration of land and water within the port limits, planning and development of operational infrastructure, easing and concession of port infrastructure, according to her has set ’’ the benchmark for tariff structure and maintaining nautical/harbor operations and hydrographic amongst others’’.
Akin Rickets, Chairman, NPA Board, described the two new tugboats acquired by the Authority, ‘’as another landmark in its quest to provide world Class services and compete with every other port in other parts of the word in terms of efficiency, competitive cost, safety and security’’.
According to him,’’ Towage services had been an integral part and determinants of the efficiency of any port operation in channels and safety in berthing them as it ensure easy passage of vessels’’. He asserted that’’ tugboats are essential for the seamless berthing of vessels as well as well as maintaining any outbreak of fire in or during operations’’.
The NPA chairman opined that’’ the purchase and the Commissioning of the two Damen’s 2810 model tug boats, MT.Musawa and MT. Ikoro Ekiti are giant strides in buoying the capacity of the Authority for more effectiveness’’ and Congratulated Hajia Usman and his Management Team for effort.
Amechi, the minister of Transportation, who Commissioned the two tug boats said ‘’ the purchase, underscores President Muhamadu Buhari ‘’ seriousness in repositioning the nation’s maritime sector in order to add more value to the economy’’. The minister who gave reasons why Buhari has thrown his weight on the sector disclosed that’’ it is because it occupies a pivotal role in the nation’s economy for the actualization of the Fundamental Objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Pan, ERGP, of the Administration.