Maersk Line’s 4,500 TEU capacity WAFMAX (West Africa Maximum) vessel, Maersk Copenhagen, called APM Terminals’ West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) in Onne Port on 3rd December 2013 becoming the largest vessel to visit the Eastern Nigerian port.
This feat, attributed to the deepening of the Bonny channels, will now be repeated continuously from next week, according to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Onne 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 NPA is instrumental in making the ship call a success by widening the channel and removing some wrecks in the Bonny Channel.
“The successive dredging campaigns being carried out by successive managements of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has started yielding positive results.
“Not only are our navigational channels now safe and navigable but they have also started attracting bigger vessels who thereto do not call on our shore.
“The coming of WAFMAX vessel into Onne is one of this manifestation which is as a result of the deepening of the Bonny Channel,” Managing Director of NPA, Mallam Habib Abdullahi, told journalists during a press in his office in Lagos yesterday.
The December 2013 port call was a trial stop for Maersk Line’s weekly Far East-West Africa (FEW2) service, which is comprised of 22 WAFMAX sized vessels that are equipped with on-board cranes and draft of 12.5 meters.
The WAFMAX ships are 37.4 meters (123 feet) wide and 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.
Abdullahi said the benefits derivable from the economies of scale in the deployment of the vessels to Nigeria is a prelude to the attainment of hub port status which is consistent with the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said preparations are in top gear to receive the vessel and to ensure that its call at Onne is handled safely.
The WAFMAX vessel, which has been calling at Tin Can Island Container Terminal in Lagos will also now call at Ports & Cargo Handling Services terminal at the Tin Can Island Port Complex.
Maersk’s WAFMAX ships started calling at APM Terminals Apapa Limited in December 2011.
Maersk Line has invested over $2 billion in its 22 large, modern and green WAFMAX vessels.