Larger vessels enter West Africa trade as ports race to upgrade
The 4,500 TEU capacity Maersk Copenhagen called APM Terminals’ West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) in Onne (Port Harcourt), Nigeria earlier this month, becoming the largest vessel to visit the Eastern Nigerian port.
The port, located along the Bonny River near Port Harcourt, serves major markets in East Nigeria and the Nigerian oil and gas industry. The Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) was instrumental in making this a success by widening the channel and removing some wrecks in the Bonny Channel.
The port call was a trial stop for Maersk Line’s weekly Far East-West Africa (FEW2) service, which is comprised of 22 West Africa-Maximum (Waf-Max) sized vessels, representing the largest vessels that can currently be accommodated at West Africa’s major container ports.
The weekly service links the ports of Busan, Korea; Shanghai, Ningbo, and Guangzhou, China and Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia; with Walvis Bay, Namibia; Apapa, Onne, Nigeria; and Luanda, Angola.
“We are very pleased with the arrival of the first 4,500 TEU vessel size to the West Africa Container Terminal at Onne,” said APM Terminals’ Africa-Middle East regional head, Peder Sondergaard.
“We are investing US$30 million in the terminal to serve our customers more efficiently and safely, while installing the essential port infrastructure necessary for Nigeria’s economic future.”
The investment reflects the company’s overall West Africa port modernisation plan designed to serve the market’s demographic growth and expanding middle class. Nigeria’s population is expected to grow to 440 million by 2050, according to a UN report released earlier this year.