The 4,500 TEU capacity Maersk Copenhagen called APM Terminals’ West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) in Onne (Port Harcourt), Nigeria on December 3rd, becoming the largest vessel to visit the Eastern Nigerian port. The port is located along the Bonny River near Port Harcourt in Rivers State and serves major markets in East Nigeria and the Nigerian oil and gas industry. The Nigerian Port Authority was instrumental in making this a success by widening the channel and removing some wrecks in the Bonny Channel.
The port call was a trial stop for Maersk Line’s weekly Far East-West Africa (FEW2) service, which is comprised of 22 West Africa-Maximum (Waf-Max) sized vessels that are equipped with on-board cranes and draft 12.5 meters (41 feet), are 37.4 meters (123 feet) wide, 249 meters (817 feet) long, representing the largest vessels that can currently be accommodated at West Africa’s major container ports. The weekly service links the ports of Busan, Korea; Shanghai, Ningbo, and Guangzhou, China and Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia; with Walvis Bay, Namibia; Apapa, Onne, Nigeria; and Luanda, Angola.
“We are very pleased with the arrival of the first 4,500 TEU vessel size to the West Africa Container Terminal at Onne. We are investing USD 30 million in the terminal to serve our customers more efficiently and safely, while installing the essential port infrastructure necessary for Nigeria’s economic future” noted APM Terminals’ Africa-Middle East Regional Head, Peder Sondergaard.
The investment reflects the company’s overall West Africa port modernization plan designed to serve the market’s demographic growth and expanding middle class. According to a UN report released this year, Nigeria’s population is expected to grow to 440 million by 2050.
WACT, which is owned and operated by APM Terminals, has a current capacity of 212,000 TEUs, and will handle some 210,000 TEUs in 2013. Volumes at Onne have tripled in the past five years. The facility is located within the Onne Oil & Gas Free Zone which was established in 1996.
In Nigeria, APM Terminals also owns and operates the country’s largest container terminal, at the Port of Apapa, investing USD 200 million in upgrades since the start of operations in 2006. APM Terminals Apapa handled 618,000 TEUs in 2012, representing West Africa’s busiest container terminal. The company is also developing a new deep-water mega-port at the Badagry Free Trade Zone, 55 km (34 miles) west of Apapa, which would be the largest port in Africa and serve Nigeria’s growing economy.
In West Africa, the APM Terminals Global Terminal Network has facilities in Monrovia, Liberia; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Tema, Ghana; Cotonou, Benin; Douala, Cameroon; Pointe-Noire, Republic of Congo and Luanda, Angola.