Following the arrival of three Ship-to-Shore cranes and 10 Rubber-Tyred Gantries, critical to the beginning of operations of the Lekki Deep Seaport June last year, the first commercial vessel berthed at the port yesterday. This came ahead of President Muhammadu Buhari's inauguration of the $1.5 billion Lekki Deep Sea Port.
Breaking the news on its official Twitter handle, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), yesterday, said the arrival of the vessel owned and operated by French shipping firm, CMA/CGM, represented a major step toward birthing Nigeria's first deep seaport.
NPA stated, "Ahead of President's commissioning of @LekkiPort for commercial operations tomorrow (Monday), one of the largest container vessels, the CMA-CGM, has berthed at the port. Once more, @NigerianPorts has proven that it is prepared to offer marine services for seamless port operations."
Buhari is billed to inaugurate the Lekki Deep Seaport for commercial operations in Lagos State today.
The Lekki Deep Seaport is a state-of-the-art facility that is the largest seaport and one of the biggest in West Africa that would revolutionise the way goods are transported and traded in Nigeria.
Speaking to newsmen recently, the promoters disclosed that the Lekki Port would not only improve efficiency and connectivity, but would also serve as a major driver for economic growth in the region.
An official of the company said, "The port's main breakwater is 1.5 km long with a turning circle of 600 meters, enough for a vessel up to 16,000 standard containers (teu) and an approach channel of 11 km long. The port has three terminals: the container terminal, the liquid terminal and the dry bulk terminal. The container terminal has an initial draft of 14 metres, with the potential for further dredging to 16.5 metres. The terminal is able to handle 2.5 million twenty-foot standard containers per year.
"The deep-sea port of Lekki is the first port in Nigeria with ship-to-shore cranes. It has three of these container gantry cranes; they belong to the 'Super-post-Panamax' group - this means that they can reach and unload the rearmost row of containers even if the container ship is wider than the Panama Canal (49 m or 160ft maximum boat beam)."
He added, "The STS cranes have a fixed rail at the quayside. They can lift 65 tons in twin-lift mode, 50 tons in single-lift mode or 85 tons under a hook. The port's computerised system will allow container identification and clearance from the office, and human interaction will be minimal in the physical operations. When the phase 2 is completed, the deep sea port will have 3 liquid berths.
"The liquid cargo terminal will handle vessels up to 45,000 DWT (dead weight tonnage) and can expand to reach a capacity of 160,000 DWT. Liquids (like petrol or diesel) will be handled at a tank farm near the port. The docking area is equipped with loading arms. It is also connected by pipelines along the breakwater."
Speaking ahead of the commencement of operation, Managing Director of the company, Du Ruogang, assured that after the official commissioning by Buhari, the port would be fully set for the start of commercial operations.