One of the concessionaires in the nation's seaports, APM Terminals Apapa Limited, has taken delivery of the five new rubber-tyred gantry (RTG) cranes it procured from overseas.
The firm, which is the operator of Apapa Container Terminal (ACT), Lagos Port Complex (LPC), is a subsidiary of the Danish logistics and port operations giant, AP Moeller-Maersk Group, and said at the formal unveiling of the equipment that they were the first series of the ten cranes it placed order for as part of its third phase terminal upgrade.
The second in the series of the cranes are expected to be delivered by the manufacturers in October 2013.
Speaking at the unveiling of the cranes at ACT, the Chief Commercial Officer of APM Terminals Apapa Limited, Mr. Neil Fletcher, revealed that the firm has invested $17.5 million (about N2.8 billion) in acquiring the 10 RTGs.
Fletcher explained that the RTG cranes are the best in class and are different from the existing fleet of RTGs in use at the terminal.
His words: "The design incorporates technology that is the envy of terminal operators in Europe, Asia and America. Some noteworthy innovations include stack profiling system that acts as an anti-collision system to prevent knocking down containers which engenders safer operations; the variable speed engine allows for fuel consumption as low as 13 litres per hour, reducing carbon emissions by up to 50 per cent against regular RTGs which consume about 24 litres per hour."
The Chief Commercial Officer also explained that all the RTG cabins are fitted with air conditioning and other fixtures ergonomically suited to the operator's comfort.
Giving an insight into the origin of the equipment, the Chief Operating Officer of APM Terminals Apapa Limited, Mr. Laurence Smith, said the new cranes were designed by Konecranes, a company based in Finland that has been designing and maintaining lifting equipment in ports and harbours all over the world for the past 100 years. He explained that the terminal operator also takes pride in developing its Nigerian workforce to operate all equipment types.
Said he: "The company deploys APMT's globally defined and internationally accredited training course "ReQuip" in training equipment operators. This course creates a standard consistent approach to develop core competencies in equipment operators. To train staff in this way, the terminal employs four ReQuip certified trainers who are multi skilled on different equipment types, including RTGs. The operators themselves are happy about the arrival of these RTGs and can already appreciate its safety features and the productivity gains. Improving service delivery to consignees is the main motivation behind the ongoing third phase of Apapa terminal's expansion.
"A total investment of $135 million is being spent to pave the remaining half of the yard, install a new customs inspection rack, procure more terminal equipment, build an office complex housing staff lunch and changing room and additional office space for Customs. This second phase of the project is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2014 and will bring the throughput capacity of the terminal to CIRCA 1 million TEUs," said Fletcher.
According to Smith, the acquisition of the new cranes brings the total number of RTGs at the terminal to 22 in addition to 28 reach stackers and empty handlers and nine mobile harbour cranes. We also have 80 trucks and 470 reefer plugs. Over the past seven years, equipment inherited from the Nigerian Ports Authority has been systematically overhauled and replaced with new assets.
APM Terminals has been in the forefront of deploying equipment and training staff to support the rising demand through Apapa. The company has consistently raised the bar of operations in the maritime industry in Nigeria with the type of equipment deployed. This was first with the heavy Liebherr LHM 500 mobile harbour cranes in 2008 and then with Nigeria's first Rubber tyre gantry cranes in 2009.
Also speaking, the Port Manager, LPC, Apapa, Mr. Nasir Anas Mohammed, hailed the port operator for its contribution to port development in Nigeria even as he assured the company of constant support from NPA.
Some crane operators who were obviously elated with the new RTG acquisition, expressed gratitude to the port operator for promoting safe working conditions.
One of them, Mr. Godspower Ojobor Ro,y said: "This Konecrane RTG is fast. The seat is very comfortable. It allows for safety and increased productivity," while another one, Mr. George Idem said: "The Konecranes have given our terminal a facelift. I am happy about this development as an RTG operator".
Another crane operator, Mr. Umahi Bernard Okoro, said the Konecrane RTGs are safer, pointing out that "I can gantry without fear of derailing out from the gantry line or path. APMT Apapa has done well". The firm is part of the APM Terminals network of 63 terminals and ports around the world. It is the largest container terminal in Nigeria and in West Africa. It said it is committed to developing ACT into a world class facility.