There are fears that Nigeria’s hub status in the seaport business is being threatened with recent developments in neighbouring ports. Lomé port, Togo now hosts West Africa’s leading container port, snatching the position from Lagos ports in Nigeria in the last quarter of 2018.

On the other hand, APM Terminal said its $1billion investment at Tema port, Ghana is still on schedule and when completed would handle 3.5 million twenty-foot equivalent containers TEUs in annual throughput capacity when fully built out.

According to Netherlands leading consulting firm, Dynamar, the port of Lomé (PAL) in Togo has rapidly expanded from 311,500 TEU containers in 2013 to 1,193,800 TEUs in 2017.

“The surge is due to the commissioning of the Lomé container terminal (LCT) which handles containers shipped through the port of Lomé. LCT actually handles nearly 890,000 TEU yearly, that is about 75 per cent of containers that transit via the PAL.

“Beyond the LCT’s commissioning, Lomé profited from the congestion hampering activities at the port of Lagos to overtake it. Aside the congestion at Lagos ports, low quality service also caused Lagos to lose its position of leading port in the region. Indeed, the flaws cost the port of Lagos close to 30 per cent of its container traffic over five years, bringing it to 1,050,000 TEU at the end of 2017.

“Hence, Tema’s port in Ghana, which used to be second after Lagos’ for years, is now third in the region with 956,400 TEU handled in 2017. The Ghanaian port is ahead of Abidjan (663,600 TEU), Dakar (570,500 TEU) and Cotonou (333,000 TEU). Since 2013, all these ports have stagnated, data shows.

“With a depth of 16.60 meters, the port of Lomé is the only deep-water port on the West African coast that can accommodate modern ships; while Onne port in Rivers,State, remains Nigeria’s deepest with 13 meters draft.

“In 2017, 285 container ships sailed through the seven intercontinental routes towards West Africa. Sent by 24 operators, each ship had an average capacity of 3,300 TEU. The biggest of these ships, a 13,600 TEU-ship is used by the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) under a hub and spoke service that connects Lomé to various ports in the region.

“Spurred by the increase in oil prices, the number of containers in West Africa should reach 4.3 million TEU by 2021,” the Netherlands – based consulting firm stated in a recent report.

Meanwhile, the port of Tema, when fully operational would make Ghana hub port in West Africa. According to a press statement made available to LEADERSHIP by Maerskline, all equipment needed had all arrived for installation in the port.

The statement also revealed that the massive infrastructure project is being managed as a joint venture between APM Terminals (35 per cent) Bolloré Africa  Logistics (35 per cent) and the Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority (30 per cent).

It reads, “All seven ship-to-shore and 20 RTG ultra-modern gantry cranes have arrived for installation in the Port of Tema, Ghana. These are one of the final pieces of a $1.0billion investment by APM Terminals and its partners in Meridian Port Services (MPS), Bolloré Africa Logistics and Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority.

“With crane commissioning and operator training now taking place, the operators of the port said the port is on schedule to be opened on June 28 this year. The breakwater and access channel, able to accommodate the world’s largest container ships, and the first 2 deep-water berths are expected to be able to receive commercial vessels by the end of June 2019.

“Port infrastructure for receiving and delivering containers from/to shippers and consignees will also be ready. The third new berth will be operational in the first quarter of 2020, ahead of the scheduled completion in June 2020.

A fourth berth will follow bringing the quay length to 1,400m,” it stated.

The seven new Super Post Panamax ship-to-shore cranes are not only some of the largest Ship-to-Shore cranes in the world, but also amongst the most advanced. Standing at a towering height of 89 meters, and 134 meters high with the boom raised, this is equivalent to 40-50 story building.