The West African Container Terminal (WACT), Onne Port, Rivers State, has placed order for 10 terminal trucks, two reach stackers and one empty container handler worth US$2.5 million (N900 million) to handle increasing volumes at the terminal.
The Managing Director of WACT, Aamir Mirza, said this on Friday during the commissioning of four new terminal trucks to enhance service delivery to its customers. The four new trucks arrived the country on Wednesday, having been flown in on one of the world’s largest cargo airplane, the Antonov An-124.
Mr. Mirza said the increase in cargo volume at the terminal necessitated the need to increase the number of the cargo handling equipment and truck fleet. He said congestion on the port roads in Apapa, Lagos has led to an increase in container volumes at Onne, as more customers find WACT attractive to handle their goods.
According to Mirza, “The traffic situation at Apapa is one of the reasons for our unprecedented growth. In 2016 and 2017, WACT recorded a growth of about 17%. This is because of the stability of the Naira and government’s encouragement of agricultural-based exports.
“However, in 2018, we ended up with a 22% growth as against our projections of 8% growth in container traffic. A sizable portion of this volume is due to traffic at Apapa, as more shippers are diverting their cargo to Onne.
“The equipment we ordered are made to our specifications, which is based on the environment and weather conditions. Our equipment is not like cars that can be produced and kept in showrooms. It takes about four to six months for the equipment to be manufactured and shipped to us.” Mirza said.
He said the remaining six trucks and other equipment are expected to arrive the terminal before April.
“Going by the growth of the Nigerian market, in about one and half years, our truck fleet will increase by 100%, reach stackers by 50%, and the empty handler fleet by 100%. This is significant investment,” he said.
Chapter Chairman of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Onne Free Zone, Michael Ebeatu, described the addition to the truck fleet as commendable.
“This will go a long way to help with the huge volume of containers coming here,” Ebeatu said.
Chairman of Ports Consultative Council, Eastern Ports, Godwin Ololuka, described the commissioning of the new terminal trucks as “a laudable development”.
Also speaking, President of the Nigerian Importers Integrity Association (NIIA), Godwin Onyekazi, commended WACT for positively impacting on trade and economic activities in the South-East and South-South regions of the country. He said WACT has enhanced the competitiveness of Onne Port and made the port more attractive for importers and shipping lines.
According to him, “Onne Port is about the only port outside Lagos that can be said to be really competitive and we must commend WACT for its untiring effort at ensuring that containers shipped through the port are handled professionally and delivered in good time to the owners.”
He said the 22% rise in cargo volume recorded at the port in 2018 was bound to put pressure on the terminal, “but WACT has characteristically risen to the challenge of ensuring that customers do not suffer unnecessarily because of the increased volume”.
Other stakeholders present at the commissioning ceremony include the Customs Area Controller of Onne Port represented by Deputy Controller Atiku Alhaji Buhari; and the Onne Chapter Chairman, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Emma Nnwamkpa, among others.
WACT, which started commercial operations in 2007, is reputed to be one of the most customer friendly port facilities in Nigeria. With a capacity of 314,000 TEUs, 325 reefer plugs and berths with depth of up to 12 meters, it is the most efficient gateway to most markets outside the Lagos area.
In 2016, WACT was named Nigeria’s Best Container Handling and Port Development Company at the African Governance and Corporate Leadership Award organized by the Institute for Government, Research, Leadership and Technology, Abuja. The Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (OCCIMA) also named WACT the winner of its Corporate Distinguished Service Award in 2015.