Worried by the worsening level of congestion across most seaport terminals in Nigeria, especially those in Lagos, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents ANLCA, has made a strong case for the deployment of very large container carriers to enhance the evacuation of empty containers.

This is sequel to the successful berthing of the biggest container vessel ever in the country’s shipping history at the West African Container Terminal WACT, Onne Ports Complex in Rivers State.

 The Maerskline Stardelhorn vessel, has a capacity of 9,971 twenty equivalent units TEUs, is a flagship from Singapore and has an overall length of 300 metres and a width of 48 metres. She was received at the Federal Ocean Terminal FOT, Onne.

National President of the association, Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike, who spoke on the heels of recent controversy trailing the large container vessel, which reportedly did not drop any cargo in Nigeria, noted that it was good enough that the vessel could successfully berth at Onne Port, describing it as a great feat.

ANLCA National President, Hon Iju Tony Nwabunike.

He however noted that such large container carriers should also be deployed to the seaports in Lagos, which have for more than one year been grappling with massive congestion occasioned by the inability of the authorities to evacuate overtime cargo, many of which had been at the terminals for over two years.

Business and Transport checks showed that apart from the overtime containers abandoned at the ports, failure of shipping companies to evacuate their empty containers remains another major causative factor for the congestion.

It was further gathered that many of the terminals in Lagos have attained over 90per cent of yard occupancy, which hampers efficiency in cargo delivery as well as turnaround time for vessels.

“My take on the berthing of the large vessel is that it is a good omen for Nigeria’s seaports because it clearly indicates that our seaports both in Lagos and Onne now have sufficient draft to handle very large ships with the economies of scale that it portends.

“But one crucial issue is that such large vessels should also be made to berth in any of the Lagos terminals even if the only thing it will achieve is to evacuate empty containers and reduce the pressure on the ports”, he had also said.

The Nigerian Ports Authority had while announcing the handling of the vessel said: “It was an indication of the fact that the Eastern Ports are equipped to receive all manner of vessels and an expansion of the options of consignees in the Eastern and northern parts of the country.

“The management of the NPA congratulates its team at the Onne Ports. We also appreciate all stakeholders at the Onne Ports for their cooperation towards seeing that the vessel berthed safely without any challenge”, the NPA said.