Nigeria is gearing up for major expansion of its port capacity to cater for future growth, explains Richard Rowe
Lagos, Nigeria’s principal port and capital city, has celebrated rapid increases in container traffic in recent years. In 2010, it handled 685,937 teu rising to a record 1.1m teu in 2014 and market studies indicate that the demand for container transport through the port will continue to grow by nearly 13% each year going forward.
All of this is positive for the port and its surroundings, but not everything in the Nigerian garden is rosy. Infrastructure in Lagos and the port approach roads are not adequate to deal with the current numbers of road vehicles and long traffic queues are a constant occurrence with frequent severe gridlock along the dock access roads. The resulting ship delays often last for several days.
According to the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA): “It takes an average of four days for a trailer to have access to load at the terminals.” In some cases, road congestion at Lagos has been so bad that containerships have had to divert to other West African ports.
Another common problem facing port authorities is that shipping lines are constantly seeking to reduce their transport costs by introducing larger ships. West African ports are no exception: at present, the 4,500 teu WAF-MAX containerships, with a length of 250m and a draft of 13.5m, are usually the largest visiting the West African ports.
However, the situation is likely to change in the near future and West African ports will need to accommodate containerships in the 6,000-10,000 teu capacity range which will require longer quays and increased water depths alongside. West African main line container ports, including Lagos, unable or unwilling to cater to this upscaling will likely to have their status reduced to that of a satellite port.
In view of the chaotic road transport situation at the Lagos docks, the rapid growth of container traffic and the need to accommodate larger containerships, two greenfield coastal sites have been selected at Lekki and Badagry for the construction of new harbours. Lekki is some 65 km east of Lagos while Badagry is 55 km to the west of the capital. Site work at both new harbours is programmed to start this year and both ports are planned to become partly operational in 2018 with completion scheduled for 2020.
The construction and development of the new Lekki Port is being undertaken by Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise (LPLE), a special purpose vehicle promoted by the Tolaram Group. Based in Singapore and operating in Nigeria, Estonia, Indonesia, Ghana and India, the company has a growing portfolio of manufacturing, marketing and distribution, sales and service, logistics, real estate and lifestyle businesses.
The concession awarded by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise is for a period of 45 years and is on a build, own, operate and transfer basis. This requires LPLE to develop, finance, build, operate and, at the end of the concession term, transfer the port ownership back to the NPA. LPLE will finance the development from revenues that they earn from their port operations at Lekki.
Estimated to cost $1.5bn, the first phase of the project will include the construction of the port entrance and the container terminal. A dry bulk cargo berth followed by a liquid berth will be constructed in later stages.
Ships will enter the new Lekki harbour from the Gulf of Guinea along a 6 km long, 150 m wide entrance channel between two parallel breakwaters. Aided by tugs, vessels will then swing in a 670m diameter turning area before berthing.
To accommodate container vessels of up to 8,000 teu capacity, the navigation channel will initially be dredged to a minimum depth of 14 m. However, as larger containerships start visiting Lekki, the minimum depth will be increased to 16.5 m to accommodate containerships of up to 10,000 teu capacity.
Three container berths will be constructed along a 1,200 m long straight line frontage and equipped with 14 post panamax gantry cranes. The terminal will be designed for an annual throughput capacity of 2.5m teu.
At the western end of the three container berths, a dry bulk cargo berth will be constructed and equipped with cargo handling cranes. A quay length of 300m will enable this berth to handle a 75,000 dwt panamax bulk carrier.
Products to be handled at the dry bulk cargo berth include grain, raw sugar and fertilisers. A covered conveyor system will transfer bulk cargo between the berth and the storage silos and the warehouses. The facility is planned to handle around 4m tonnes of dry bulk yearly.
Located on the inside face of the main breakwater, the liquid berth will load vessels of up to 45,000 dwt for the export of crude oil. However, a refinery is planned in an adjoining free trade zone, in which case, the ship size may be increased to 160,000 dwt to carry finished liquid products including petrol and diesel.
The liquid berth will be equipped with loading arms and connected by pipelines running along the breakwater to carry cargoes between the tank farm and the vessels.
As the Tolaram Group does not have the necessary port operational expertise, LPLE has awarded a sub-concession to International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) for the management, equipping and operation of the container terminal. From the start of operations, the sub-concession will be for a period of 21 years.
A small coastal town, Badagry lies on the Benin-Lagos Expressway which connects Lagos with Porto Novo, the capital of the Benin Republic. Currently being upgraded from a four-lane to a 10-lane highway, this Expressway will provide much improved road access to Nigeria’s Western and Northern states.
The layout of the new Badagry harbour will be similar to that at Lekki. However, unlike Lekki, Badagry is backed by an extensive system of natural inland waterways which will be developed for use by barges carrying containers and other bulk cargoes. Studies have shown that a 2,000 tonne capacity barge can complete six round trips in a day between Badagry and the container terminals at Apapa and Tin Can Island in Lagos.
Development of the new port is being undertaken under a 21-year lease by APM Terminals in a consortium with Terminal Investment Limited.
In accordance with the lease, the consortium is undertaking the design, building, operation and maintenance of Badagry as a world-class port. The development includes a container terminal, an offshore supply base, a refined products terminal and a general purpose terminal.
In the first stage, the container terminal will be constructed with a 775m long quay wall for the accommodation of two Maersk 12,000 teu Emden Class containerships. In further stages, the quay wall will be extended to a length of 2,600m while the minimum water depth alongside the berths will be increased from 16.5m to 18.0m. This depth will enable Maersk 18,000 teu Triple-E Class containerships to berth at Badagry.
The offshore supply base will provide onshore support for Nigeria’s oil and gas operations in the Gulf of Guinea. Food supplies, equipment, drilling mud, fuel, etc. will be shipped out to the rigs at frequent intervals while waste material, redundant equipment, etc. together with returning staff will be brought back.
Located inside the lee breakwater, the offshore supply base will initially have a 500m long quay frontage. However, it is anticipated that the quay frontage will need to be extended to 1,000m in the long term.
Situated on the inner side of the main breakwater, the refined products terminal will be equipped with a dedicated jetty designed to handle 60,000 dwt panamax tankers carrying gasoline, diesel and jet products. Using the vessel on-board pumps, refined products will be pumped to a tank farm approximately 1km from the jetty.
In a later phase, two or more jetties are planned with the capacity to handle 300,000 dwt VLCC tankers.
Designed for handling a variety of cargo types including breakbulk and ro-ro, the general purpose terminal will be used in the port construction phases and for subsequent market demands. In the opening stage, the terminal will be constructed with a 325m long quay wall frontage but in the long term, the quay length will be extended to 775m.
These two port projects will go a long way towards carving a clear path for Nigeria’s future port evolution in preparation for the huge growth in demand anticipated in the medium term.
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