The Minister for Transport, Honourable Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday in an event held in Apapa, Lagos, commissioned two brand new tugboats for the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA. The tugboats were named MT Musawa and MT Ikoro-Ekiti. Each of the tug boats is about 28.67 meters long, 10.43 meters wide, and 4.90 meters drafts. They were built by Damen Shipyard under Lloyds Classification Society standards and powered by twin MTU engines to reach a speed of 13.5knots. They were acquired to boost the efficiency of delivery of towage services on sea. Their power deliveries help the tugboats to produce 60 tonnes bollard pull ahead and 58.7 tonnes astern, for towing operations. In addition to this, they are equipped with fire fighting and safety accessories and machines to enable them deal with fire outbreaks on the seas.
“MT Ikoro-Ekiti” was named by the Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), who is also the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, ENL Consortium, Princess Vicky Haastrup; while MT Musawa was named by the Chairman of Shipowners Forum, Barrister Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi.
While making his speech at the event, the minister said the procurement of the brand new tugboats, as well as other equipment that are in the works, is a sign of President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s willingness to position the maritime sector to offer greater value to the economy of Nigeria. He said, “If anyone was in doubt as to the importance of the maritime sector to Nigerian and global economy, the events of the past three months where ports across the world have remained open in spite of the comprehensive lockdown of virtually other sectors should instruct on why priority attention has to be given to the sector.
“Given government’s determination to develop other sectors of the national economy and reduce reliance on the oil and gas sector, we have identified the pivotal role that the maritime sector occupies in actualizing the fundamental objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of this administration.
“We understand that not less than 85 percent of the country’s external trade passes through the seaports and are committed to repositioning the ports for greater efficiency. The much talked about transition from a mono-product into a diversified economy is heavily dependent on how robust we can make our maritime space and we are committed to achieving this.
“As you are aware, work is ongoing on the President’s directive that all seaport locations must be linked up to the standard gauge rail line even as we are determined to link up the 36 state capitals with the Federal Capital, Abuja with standard gauge rail services.”
The former governor of Rivers State praised NPA for delivering on the project nine months ahead of schedule, saying the acquisition of the tug boats further emphasized the determination of the NPA to increase its operational efficiency. According to him, the maritime sector is strategic in the Federal Government’s resolve to diversify the economy.
During her address, the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, said the NPA’s commitment to the advancement of facilities and equipment that will boost service delivery and optimal performance of the nation’s seaports, will not waver.
She said the tugboats will greatly help in the manoeuvring of large capacity vessels calling at the ports to berth and unberth, and will improve the turnaround time for vessels.
She said with the two new tugboats, added to the other fleet of four which were commissioned in 2017, vessel owners, concessionaires and other stakeholders will experience even better service delivery from the NPA.
Sources: Shipsandports.com.ng; Federal Ministry of Transport