By Gladys Nweke
The West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) in Onne Port near Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has said that it is preparing to take delivery of two new mobile harbor cranes from Liebherr, as part of a $10m upgrade project.
The upgrade will bring WACT, which is not just the biggest but also the most efficient container terminal outside Lagos, at par with its peers in Apapa and Tin Can Island ports in Lagos in terms of equipment and operational efficiency.
Managing Director of WACT, Mr Aamir Mirza, disclosed this during the commissioning of four new specialized terminal trucks and an empty handler in Onne on Thursday said the mobile harbor cranes are expected to arrive Nigeria in July 2019.
Mirza said that the acquisition of four additional specialized 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 the Eastern 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 a substantial number of trucks. The trucks are required to support the operations of the mobile harbor cranes because when compared to the current vessel cranes, the mobile harbor cranes operate at a faster rate.
”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, and 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 fulfill 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, Mirza said that apart from investing in equipment, WACT has also focused on improving communication with its customers on major developments at the terminal.
He added thus: “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 serving them better and listen to them and take steps to improve the level of service and provide them with support so that our business and theirs continue to grow,” Mr. Mirza said.
The Acting Port Manager of Onne Port, Dr. Agbo Julius, who witnessed the commissioning of the four new specialized terminal trucks and empty handler, lauded WACT for its commitment to operational efficiency and service delivery at the port.
He said: “WACT has 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.”
Several other stakeholders, including representative of the Customs Area Controller, Port Harcourt 2 Area Command, Onne, Assistant Comptroller Yahaya Idris; Chairman of Nigerian Port Consultative Council (NPCC), Godwin Ololuka, as well as freight forwarding and truckers associations, who also witnessed the truck commissioning ceremony, also commended WACT for its continuous investment and raising the bar in service-delivery at the port.