Nigeria’s leading container terminal, the West Africa Container Terminal (WACT), is set to deploy 26 new cranes consisting of three additional Mobile Harbour Cranes (MHCs) to bring the number of MHCs at the terminal to five; acquisition of 20 Rubber Tyre Gantry Cranes (RTGs) and three Reach Stackers in its Phase 2 upgrade within the next 18 months.
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 the alternative to the ports in Lagos.
The Commercial Manager of WACT, Noah Sheriff, said in addition to the 26 new cranes, the Phase 2 upgrade will also include the acquisition of 13 terminal trucks and trailers, an empty container handler, deployment of reefer racks with 600 plugs capacity, as well as expansion and paving of the current yard by 13 hectares, new workshop and new terminal gate complex.
“We anticipate additional volume growth as more and more shipping lines, importers and exporters are developing confidence in our ability to handle their cargo. This further investment is to ensure that we are well prepared to handle this additional business in the future,” he said.
Sheriff adds that the new investments will increase productivity and improve reliability of cargo delivery whilst reducing port stays and vessel idle time. All the above will lead to greater customer satisfaction.
In 2019, WACT spent USD14 million to acquire equipment including two Mobile Harbour Cranes, 14 specialized terminal trucks and two reach stackers.
This first phase of investment last year brought high operational efficiency and set WACT apart from other ports in East Nigeria.
“Our vision is to make WACT the best performing container terminal in West Africa. We believe this vision can be realized through active collaboration with the Government to reduce the security challenges faced by vessels in our waters, and improved road connectivity,” states WACT Managing Director, Aamir Mirza.
Since December 2019, WACT has been handling gearless vessels, which previously could only be handled at the ports in Lagos. Several stakeholders have commended WACT for being proactive and for its long-term commitment to the Nigerian economy.
The Chairman, Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN), Onne Port, Chief Gabriel Okonkwo, said, “To be very frank about WACT operation, there has been substantial increase in import volume and to measure up with that, they have acquired a lot of equipment to ease cargo clearance and we commend them for that because they are doing very well. They are keeping up with the demand, they can receive vessels, do loading and drop containers for examination, all at the same time.”
WACT is one of the first greenfield terminals to be built in Nigeria under a public, private partnership initiated by the Nigerian government in 2003. Located in the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone near Port Harcourt, WACT caters to the greater Port Harcourt area and Eastern Nigeria, including the Nigeria oil and gas industry. Since its inception, WACT has played a pivotal role in successfully connecting East, North, West Central Nigeria and River State to the world.