NPA: Bello-Koko, Fulfils Promises; Lekki Port Receives Maersk’s Large Container Vessel

By Stephen Ubanna

Mohammed Bello-Koko, Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, appears to have kept his promise to Adegboyega Oyetola, a former governor of Osun state and now minister of Marine and Blue Economy, to provide the needed Leadership and technical guidance required to maximize the potentials inherent in the nation’s marine and blue economy.

The NPA, Chief Executive Officer,CEO, was said to have given the assurance  during the signing of the Ministerial  Performance Bond in December 2023. The minister may have taken the signing of the Performance Bond to the agencies under the ministry as President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, had made him and other ministers to sign the performance  Bond for him

Lekki deep sea port in Lagos

The signing of the Performance Bond, may have encouraged the NPA, CEO, to go all out to improve the natio’s ports operations by ensuring that larger ocean-going vessels laden with cargoes berth at the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tincan-can Island Port Terminal Multi-services Limited, PTML, including the $1.5 billion, Lekki deep seaport designed to handle at least million 20ft standard Containers yearly 2.5 and south eastern port of Onne, Rivers state.

The NPA CEO, who was said to have taken the government trade facilitation policy a notch higher with the successful berthing at the Lekki deep seaport of Maersk Line large Container vessel, MV Edurne, measuring 376 meter length and breadth of 48.2metres on Saturday, January 21, 2024, amidst cheers from industry Operators.  

The Maersk line vessel, described as one of the 13 large Container vessels  which form the  new CMACGM WAX service vessels is  expected to operate, according to informed stakeholders   along  key shipping locations,  including  the much talked about Xiamen, Quigando, Shaghai , Singapore , Nigeria and Coted’Ivoire.      

Marsk vvessel, MV Edurne Berths at Lekki Port

The Maerskline vessel was said to have carried a Gross Registered Tonnage, GRT, of 142,131 metric tonnes and Dead weight tonnage , DWT, of 147,340 metric tonnes, thus constituting a total of 3, 376 metric tonnes of  cargo  onboard  the vessel. An inside had said that the large Maerskline ocean-going vessel laden with cargo was navigated to safety by the Authority highly experienced and thorough equipped Pilots.

The Management of NPA, may have prepared the ground for the Authority Pilots to navigate he Lekki deep seaports with ease  with the procurement and commissioning  of two 80 –ton  Bollard Pull Tug boats  christened MT Maikoko and MT DA-Opukuro.   Officials of the Authority had said that with the heavy duty tug boats, the maritime agency can tug in any vessel, no matter the size to boost ports operational efficiency.  It was not surprising why the Authority could tug the vessel, Maersk Edurne to Lekki deep seaport without any hitch and processing the cargo.

The NPA, CEO, who could not hide his feelings had given kudos to Oyetola, the minister of marine and blue economy for making it possible for the Maersk line ocean going vessel, considered to be one of the largest to berth at the Lekki deep se He had attributed the achievement to the consistent support and endorsement of the Authority’s initiatives and investment s in employee upskilling and equipment renewal  by the minister.

The successful berthing of the Maersk line large ocean –going vessel at the Lekki deep sea port may have informed why  the NPA boss had said that this is time for the largest commercial  vessels like MV Stadelhorn and MSC   Maureen which sailed at Tincan Island and Onne ports complexes  respectively to sail on Nigerian waters.

An elated Bello-koko, had said that that successful berthing of the Maersk Edurne vessel, measuring 376 meters at the Lekki deep seaport represents a quantum leap forward to the nation’s shipping activities.  He noted that  by successfully berthing the Maersk ocean going vessel in addition to pioneering  of full automation  and facilitation  of transshipment  operations since it commenced operations , the  Lekki deep seaport has proven  to readiness  to exceed  stakeholders expectations this 2024.

  Util the Lekki deep sea port received the first ever Maersk large vessel m measuring 376 meters since  it commenced operations in 2023, it had received the first CMA CGM  RIMBAUD   transshipment vessel  2023on June 29, barely one month into Tinubu’s Administration. The service was said to have originated from the Far East, passing through Shnghai, Nimgbo, Shekou, Nansha, Tanjung , Pelpas, Singapore and Kiribi in Cameroun, before finally arriving the Lekki Port.The vessel was said to have carried 411 TEUs of transshipment cargo  and has a  nominal  Container  handling capacity  of 6,900 TEUs.  Not many are surprised that the Lekki port could handle transshipment vessels because the Authority officials were said to have already held talks with officials from neighbouring Chad, Benin Republic and Niger in May, 2023. The transshipped cargo was said to have departed Lekki deep seaport to the Autonomous port of Benin, Cotonou, the final destination   on July 16, 2023.

While Nigeria over the years has been losing the transshipment hub status to other ports in the West and Central African subregions, Lekki port, equipped with world –class machines    appears to have become the game changer.

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