The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala Usman has acquired pilotage equipment worth over $60million to make the ports attractive for business and boost efficiency.
The equipment, which included six 60-tonne buller- pull tug boats and pilot cutters it was gathered, were acquired in the last four years to bring the ports to international standard and increase the Federal Government revenue at the ports.
Speaking during the commissioning of two new boats – Mt Musawa and Mt Ikoro Ekiti in Lagos yesterday, the Managing Director assured vessel owners, concessionaires and other stakeholders that they wiould experience better service delivery from the NPA with the acquisition of the equipment by the agency and see an increase in competitiveness of the nation’s sea ports.
Other boats earlier acquired by the NAP are – Mt Daura, Mt Ubima, Mt Uromi and Mt Majaya.
Although, Ms Usman did not state how much they acquired the boats and the pilot cutters, but stakeholders’ said, they are worth over $60million.
The tug boats, findings revealed, are embedded with state-of-the-art equipment and fully computerised engines as part of efforts to upgrade port facilities and ensure adequate service delivery
“The twin MTU engines enable the tug boats to produce 60ton bollard pull ahead and 5,7ton astern, for towing operations. They are also equipped to serve as fire-fighting machines.
“The assurance is that vessel owners and concessionaires and other stakeholders will experience even better service delivery from the NPA. This buttresses the commitment of the government to invest in the development of the sector and a call on other stakeholders to join government in this very important task, she said.
She told reporters that the acquisition of the boats became necessary because of the change in the world transportation system and the need to meet the increasing demands of stakeholders in Lagos and other Pilotage Districts across the country.
The boats, findings Revealed, were built by DAMEN Engineering, in Netherlands under strict supervision of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
They were delivered and moored by Depasa Marine Service Limited yesterday, at the Continental Shipyard Limited in Apapa.
Each of the boats, she said, came with twin fire-fighting pumps, with a reach above 300 meters and a flow of over 600 cubic meters per hour of water and foam.
The boats are “one of the best in the world and the strongest in their class”.
The managing director said the new two boats would be deployed for efficient delivery of towage services at the Eastern port ports.
She added that the acquisition of the boats would enhance the technology of towage services and stressed that the boats were revenue earners for the Federal Government.
The boats were also acquired to provide safety of bigger vessels. They will also be used for Search and Rescue (SAR) operations
With the commissioning and acquisition of the boats, Ms Usman said, NPA has increased its fleet. The aim is to end stakeholders’ complaints of tugs capability and insufficiency.
Before the boat acquisition by Ms Usman led administration, the Vice President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Dr Kayode Farinto said, the biggest tug boats in Lagos had capacity not beyond 40-tonnes buller-pulls. The biggest in Port Harcourt pilotage district was not up to 50-tonnes buller pulls.
Unlike others before them, investigation has shown that the new tug boats have slimmer bodies and narrow bridges (wheel house), with inclined exhausts, meaning that they could get closer to the large ships without hurting either the ships or themselves; thereby making them highly effective. At full throttle, the boats can do a speed of at least 14 knots, either forward or backwards.
The Managing Director thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, members of the the Federal Executive Council and the Ministers of Transportation for the support received from them in the past years.