The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) yesterday commissioned four new ultramodern tug boats acquired at the cost of $30milion (N9.15billion) as part of efforts to boost marine operation and service delivery in the Lagos Pilotage District.
The boats named MT Daura, MT Ubima, MT Uromi and MT Majiya, with 60 tonnes bollard pull capacity, can each be used to tow the new class of ultra large containerships.
Ships & Ports reports that the boats have speed of 12.9 knots. They were built by Damen Shipyard, while the engines were built by Rolls Royce.
Speaking at the commissioning of the tug boats held at the Continental Shipyard, Apapa, Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman said the four tug boats will help NPA improve its towage services and thus enhance the nation’s revenue as bigger vessels can now call at the ports.
She added the boats will complement existing ones in NPA fleet to provide enabling environment for smooth and efficient port services.
She said, “With the launch of these four tugboats, we are achieving not only the transport demand but also an enhancement in the required technology operations of towage services in our ports.
“The new tug boats will provide the authority an avenue where we can tug in very huge vessels. A lot of our operators have been concerned about the towage services we are providing so with this new entry in addition to our fleet, we are going to be more efficient in delivering towage services in our pilotage districts.
“A lot of vessels calling in Nigeria will now be comfortable to call because they know that we have good towage capacity.”
Explaining the reasons behind the naming of the tug boats, the NPA boss said, “We identified towns and communities where leaders that had led Nigeria emerge from. So that is what informed the naming of these vessels.”
“Now we have a total of nine tug boats. We are going to look at the requirement across the respective zones and deploy them accordingly,” she said.
The NPA boss said the organization has been fulfilling its obligations to provide 13.5 metres depths at the Lagos channel under the management of Lagos Channel Management Company (LCM). She further stated that about 100 critical wrecks have been removed in Lagos channels since the partnership with LCM began ten years ago.
NPA Board Chairman, Emmanuel Adesoye, extolled the NPA management for doing a ”fantastic job” in acquiring the boats. He disclosed that the tugs are expected to enhance the revenue position of NPA.
Also speaking at the event, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, lauded the management of NPA for the infrastructure development in the sector, which he said has reduced the turnaround time of ships at the ports.
Peterside, who was represented by the Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Bashir Jamo, described the feat as a right step in the right direction noting that it is imperative that Nigeria continues to build necessary maritime infrastructure required to handle prospective bulk in the internationals trade.
“Before now, attention has always been towards recurrent expenditure in Nigeria, but the current administration has shifted attention to capital expenditure which is desired for infrastructural growth and development.
“Infrastructure development is very crucial in the growth of the maritime sector and the extension of the Nigerian economy; particularly now that the Nigerian government is diversifying the economy in order to create more jobs and generate revenue,” he said.
Dakuku noted that the efforts of NPA will go a long way in assisting the government achieve its agenda and help block revenue leakages at a time the country is struggling to get out of recession.
The four tug boats were commissioned by the NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman; an NPA Board member, Barrister Constance Harry Onukwagha; President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nike Akande and member, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Binta Masi Garba.