The West Africa Container Terminal (WACT), Onne Port, Rivers State, has said it is preparing to take delivery of two new mobile harbour cranes from Liebherr, as part of $10 million (N3.6 billion) upgrade.
The upgrade would bring WACT at par with its peers in Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports, Lagos, in terms of equipment and operational efficiency.
The Managing Director of WACT, Mr. Aamir Mirza, while speaking during the inauguration of four new specialised terminal trucks and an empty handler in Onne, said the mobile harbour cranes are expected to arrive Nigeria in July this year.
He also said that the acquisition of four additional specialised terminal trucks brings to 10 the number of such trucks acquired by WACT so far this year, with four more expected before the end of the year.
He said: "You will recall that four trucks arrived first in February, then we added two in April, and four have just arrived. This is in line with our plan of investing in container handling equipment to maintain our strong position in East Nigerian market.
"So far we have 10 terminal trucks and four are still coming on the way. We have 12 that we are already using in the past. So with this, we are going to have substantial number of trucks.
"The trucks are required to support the operations of the mobile harbour cranes because when compared to the current vessel cranes, the mobile harbour cranes operate at a faster rate."
He added: "So already we are bringing them in and when the two cranes arrive in July, we will already have these trucks with us and as soon as those cranes are commissioned, we would have all the required equipment with us for efficient operation.
"We have been investing in getting more equipment to our terminal to make sure that we continue to serve our customers better, deliver their cargo on time in a way that will bring more business to our terminal.
"We want to assure them that we will continue to fulfil the commitment that we have made in making sure that we continue to serve them better as we progress through the year."
While expressing appreciation to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for their support and collaboration, Mr. Mirza said that apart from investing in equipment, WACT has also focused on improving communication with its customers on major developments at the terminal.
"We have also added more computers to the clearing agent's office so that they can download their invoices and complete their documentation before coming to the terminal.
"It is basically a mutual relationship that we are trying to maintain with all the stakeholders. We are poised to serve them better; listen to them and take steps to improve the level of service and provide them with necessary support so that our business and theirs continue to grow," Mirza said.
The Acting Port Manager of Onne Port, Dr. Agbo Julius, who witnessed the inauguration of the four new specialised terminal trucks and empty handler, lauded WACT for its commitment to operational efficiency and service delivery at the port.
"WACT have improved on their operation and I want to commend them for that. When we come around here and we see how big the place is with operations going on smoothly with very modern equipment, we keep on moving closer to our goal of being the leading port in Africa.
"The commissioning of this equipment is encouraging because it is not the first time WACT is doing this. When we have operational equipment, it means we will improve our efficiency and service delivery, which is the cornerstone of Onne Port. All of us are working together in ensuring that we make Nigerian ports become the leading ports in Africa, "Julius said.