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Lekki DSP: When The Chinese Hi-tech Cargo Arrived

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BY EGUONO ODJEGBA

Bello-Koko

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Ruogang

It is no longer news that the Lekki Deep Sea Port (DSP) penultimate week received three Ship-To-Shore (STS) handling cranes, in addition to ten Rubber Tyred Gantry (RTG) cranes; as part of the groundwork for the commencement of commercial operations, programmed to begin before the end of the year.

The voyage effectively announced to the shipping world, especially regional and continental players that the shipping map now has Lekki DSP built by China Harbour Engineering LFTZ Enterprise, not only as a priority port but one that has changed the face of vessels’ port call in Nigeria, with the successful berthing of the 14m deep specialized cargo vessel named ZHEN HUA 28 on Friday, July 1 2022.

The Chinese are not only good at what they do onshore and offshore to earn the respect of the world, aside their tenacious effort to rule the world in terms of commerce, technology, financial aid, diplomatic and bilateral trade, the Chinese undoubtedly also possess one of the greatest nationalists credential as a people largely united by an umbilical passion for excellence, exceeding global industry outlook, and united in love and common expectations.

This is not hard to observe wherever they congregate in fairly large numbers or by the utmost diligence and passion they individually deploy in their work places, be it a private supermarket or a construction company affiliated to China in any form.

Without sounding unduly patronizing, it is instructive to note the excellent amount of structural engineering and integrated fitting that went into the loading of the equipments especially in lieu of the gravitational chart and design to give the unwieldy cargo the required navigational balance.

Nor is the voyage any less eventful and exciting, as its arrival at the Lagos channel couldn’t but be celebrated as a unique voyage, worthy of commendation. But let us also digress a little and appreciate the humble history of ZHEN HUA 28 sailed to anchor in a blaze of quiet glory at 1.09pm by Capt. Vu Yttar.

Operated by Shanghai Zhenhua Shipping Co., Ltd, Hong Kong, China, ZHEN HUA 28 has Registration No. HK-2194 with IMO No. 8700266, and operates Class ABS. Registered at the Hong Kong with Class No.8839369, her Main Engine Type is GRTA62 SUMITOMO-SULZER, with M/V10440KW Horse Power. The vessel keel was laid on November 6, 1987 by SUMITOMO HEAVY INDUSTRIES CO., LTD. JAPAN.

Dabiri making a remark

ZHEN HUA 28 overall length is 232.00metre, 42.00metre breadth mould, with depth mould of 13.50metres.  The specialized cargo vessel has a design draft of 9.20metres, 40915 gross tonnage and 12004net tonnage. Interestingly, global renowned player, Bolloré/Alraine is the vessel’s agent.

Mr. Seol reading his speech

As the vessel gradually approached the port in its captivating full view and size; and glides slowly to the quay apron supported by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) two tugboats which assisted her to anchor, staff members and workers trooped out to witness the glorious berthing, at 1:09pm.

At that instant, there erupted a symphony of sustained clapping of hands amid loud ovation and that resonated like mild echo across the vast Lekki DSP facility and beyond, emptying into the sea shoreline. By the time the ovation died down, the quay apron area which has been overshadowed slightly with the cranes sitting atop ZHEN HUA 28 like a power plant had about a hundred people milling around, admiring the Chinese marvel with unmistaken great excitement.

The crowd consist of large numbers of Chinese, not less than thirty, in workplace reflective overalls, elated with the wonders on water, and speaking excitedly to one another; and some quite frankly speaking to both the ship and the equipments onboard; which by the nature of its sit-to-fit welding engineering masterpiece looks every inch an integral part of the ship, at first glance.

Especially for the Chinese, the passion of sovereign pride was visible on their faces and loud on their voices, even as Nigerian spectators were all wrapped up big time in the joy of the moment. Not only did the Chinese welcomed ZHEN HUA 28 and its crew with a befitting firework, everybody toasted the moment with a sip of champagne; even as Mr. Seol, Head of Lekki Port Investment Holding Inc, made his presentation in Chinese to emphasize the importance of the day; with an aide on ground to read the English language prepared translation.

On hand to witness the arrival of the vessel with the operational handling equipments was the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, some NPA Board members; and management staffs.

Bello-Koko in his remark said the arrival of the cargo handling equipments is critical to the commencement of operations of the Lekki Deep Sea Port, noting that the Authority will continue to support all investments targeted at enhancing ports operations.

He said, “It is historic as it moves us a step closer to birthing Nigeria’s first Deep Seaport and also demonstrates our readiness to take trade facilitation a notch higher. The commitment of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to providing every support necessary to place Nigeria on the global list of countries with Deep Seaports is unflinching.

“This is why matters related to the operationalization of Lekki Deep Seaport before the end of this year have been placed on top priority. For us at the NPA the coming on stream of Lekki DSP symbolizes a lot of positives.  Apart from being Nigeria’s first Deep Seaport, Lekki Port will also be the first fully automated port at take-off.

“This provides an insight into the path we are already toeing as a management team to govern the operationalization of not just the forthcoming Badagry, Ibom and Bonny Deep Seaports, but also of the reconstruction of the aged Tin-Can Port, where work is set to commence once we secure the necessary approvals from the Federal Ministry of Transportation and FEC respectively.”

“Our strategic intent of becoming the maritime logistics hub for sustainable ports services in Africa rests heavily on how well we are able to deepen our efficiencies through a construction of deep seaports in order to leverage the concomitant benefits of economies of scale.

“I would like to say a big congratulation to all stakeholders on this milestone and wish us greater strides as we push the envelope of trade facilitation.”

Speaking earlier, Chairman of Board of LFTZ, Abiodun Dabiri expressed delight with the delivery of the equipments, noting that their arrival has re-emphasized t’s projection to commence operations before the end of the year.

His words: “Today is a rather very significant day as we take delivery of critical handling machineries to while working assiduously towards commencing commercial operations before the end of this year. This vision was conceived close to 13 years ago.

“I have no wish to make a much speech; all l can tell you is that this event will commence the process that will deliver Nigeria as a regional hub. The vessel we have just received is carrying major cranes, and these cranes will enhance the transformation of the Lekki DSP.

“The draught of this channel is about 16.5metres, and the vessel depth  is about 14.5metres. The implication of this is that there is nowhere else in this country that this vessel can berth, and that is what makes it historic.”

Also speaking, Managing Director of Lekki Free Trade Zone, Mr. Du Ruogang noted that all development partners in the project are working hard to achieve commencement of commercial shipping before the end of year 2022; and disclosed that arrangement to deliver all equipments required for the port to run have been  concluded and will be arriving in phases.

“Today is a very encouraging day because we have finally made it. This is the first batch of our machineries, in the near future which is early August, we’ll mobilize second batch of the equipments. Before our formal commencement of the port operation, before end of December, our port and all our facilities will be in place. We have achieved significant milestones, we are confident to open the port to the public before the end of this year.”

Head of Lekki Port Investment Holding Inc, Mr. Seol corroborating the points made by Ruogang assured that all stakeholders will continue to work as a team to make the project a reality; noting that China’s commitment to support the growth of Africa is unwavering, and built on mutually beneficial rewards.

Studies have shown that Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are the largest investors in Africa by sheer value and orientation, and continues to dominate the energy, transportation and resources sectors due to their strategic nature and long-haul returns on investments.

It is believed that by 2013, China has already overtaken the United States as Africa’s largest equity investors in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI). As a matter of fact, by 2017, the reality of the Chinese domination has forced a dramatic change in United States-Africa bilateral trade; which has seen the United States embark on massive withdrawal.

 

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