Home Opinion Featured Articles The awakening of Nigeria’s seaport docks

The awakening of Nigeria’s seaport docks

"Bride" of Nigeria's deepest seaport docks after epic voyage

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by Olatunji Saliu

In a glorious dance of steel and waves, the CMA CGM Scandola emerged from the horizon and gracefully embraced the harbor of Lekki Port, in Nigeria’s southwestern state of Lagos, capturing the attention of onlookers, dignitaries, and maritime industry enthusiasts alike.

The liquefied natural gas-powered container vessel, with a capacity of 14,812 twenty-foot equivalent units, embarked on an epic voyage from China’s coastal city of Shanghai, traversing several countries and seas before making a triumphant docking Monday afternoon at the Lekki Port, Nigeria’s deepest seaport built by China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC).

Described by local officials as the “bride” of Nigeria’s deepest seaport, the CMA CGM Scandola is the largest-ever container vessel to dock at any local port in this bustling African nation. Its arrival marked not just the conclusion of a remarkable journey but also the beginning of a transformative chapter in Nigeria’s maritime sector.

The joy and cheers that welcomed its berthing at the Lekki Port unfolded against the backdrop of Nigeria’s maritime aspirations and a promising future for global trade connections.

“It is something that we truly, really need to roll out drums and be proud of because what that is about, indeed, is that we are putting the Lekki freeport, Lagos state, and Nigeria into the world’s global logistics marine business,” said Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu while welcoming the gigantic vessel.

The Lekki Port is a commercial cooperation project among China, France, and Nigeria. Built by the CHEC, it stands as Nigeria’s deepest seaport and one of the largest in West Africa. The construction, initiated in June 2020, was completed in October 2022.

The port, which began commercial operations in April 2023, can handle 1.2 million standard containers a year.

The ceremony surrounding the docking of the CMA CGM Scandola was nothing short of a festival. Dignitaries, government officials, and industry leaders gathered to witness the historic moment.

The event was not only an opportunity to celebrate the physical arrival of the vessel but also to emphasize the collaborative efforts that made the Lekki deep seaport a reality.

With the potential to handle a massive volume of containers, the port has become a key player in facilitating efficient and seamless trade operations, making Nigeria a formidable force in the competitive global shipping market.

Abodunrin Koleosho, a prominent figure in Nigeria’s maritime sector, told Xinhua that the arrival of the CMA CGM Scandola at the Lekki Port was a clear testament to the advancements Nigeria is making in its maritime infrastructure.

“This achievement not only boosts our global trade capabilities but also positions Nigeria as a key player in the ever-evolving shipping industry,” said Koleosho, who has been in maritime business for over 32 years. “For me, witnessing the ‘bride’ of our deepest seaport docking here is truly awe-inspiring.”

“The state-of-the-art facilities at the Lekki Port and the successful voyage of such a massive vessel demonstrate our commitment to enhanced maritime operations,” he said.

For Emmanuel Nwachukwu, an entrepreneur in the shipping sector, celebrating the arrival of the “bride” was more than a ship-docking. This symbolized economic growth and opportunities for Nigeria, he noted, adding that “the Lekki Port is a game-changer, and the CMA CGM Scandola’s arrival reaffirms our nation’s readiness to compete globally.”

Yan Yuqing, the Chinese consul-general in Lagos, said that the docking of the vessel “has marked a new beginning in Nigeria’s shipping sector” by promoting import and export, noting that the development represents one of the landmark achievements of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

Laurent Favier, the French consul-general in Lagos, said the arrival of the CMA CGM Scandola marked a significant step forward for maritime trade in Nigeria. He also noted Nigeria’s commitment to embracing cutting-edge technologies and sustainable practices.

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