Two new multi-million-dollar tugboats, MT Musawa and MT Ikoro-Ekiti, purchased by the Nigerian Ports Authority were on Friday commissioned by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi.
At the event, which took place at the Dockyard Apapa, Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, noted that the equipment would boost the capacity of the ports to receive and berth larger container vessels in accordance with consultations with stakeholders over the past couple of years.
Bala-Usman assured that the Authority would remain committed o the continuous upgrade of facilities and equipment at the ports as this was the only way to enhance service delivery and make the ports competitive.
Her words: “We know that towage is a critical part of our mandate and we recognised stakeholders’ contribution and comments on the need for us to provide the necessary equipment required.
“As a result, the Authority is committed to the continuous upgrade of facilities and equipment that will enhance service delivery.
“This commitment is to ensure that all the six seaports are prepared for optimal performance at all times.
“It also accounts for the purchase of these new tugboats, MT Musawa and MT Ikoro-Ekiti joining our other fleet of four, namely: MT Daura, MT Ubima, MT Uromi and MT Majiya, which were commissioned in 2017.”
Bala-Usman explained that the Damen’s 2810 Model tugboats will aid the manoeuvring of vessels to berth and unberth, improve the turnaround time of vessels as well as the firefighting capacity at the ports.
She thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, Ameachi and the Federal Executive Council for the support the NPA has received from them and promised to work alongside the Board, Management and Staff of the Authority to reposition the ports for greater efficiency.
Amaechi noted that the Buhari Administration places a lot of importance on the ports, noting that the fact that the ports have remained opened in spite of the global lockdown that attended the coronavirus pandemic was enough to show the importance of the maritime sector.
He said: “We understand that not less than 85 per cent 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 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.”
Ameachi commended the NPA for delivering on the project way ahead of schedule.
The Chairman of the NPA Governing Board, Akin Ricketts, assured of the board’s readiness to work in ensuring efficiency at the ports, noting that the inauguration of MT Musawa and MT Ikoro-Ekiti is a step in this direction.