History was made, when the West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) received the First Maersk’s direct service container ship from Far East at the Onne Port in Rivers State.

The vessel, a gearless 4,800 24-feet Equivalent Unit (TEU) capacity carrier, sailed into Onne Port with Maersk Line flagship under its FEW3 service, thereby becoming the first Maersk vessel to call at Onne Port without first calling at any Lagos port.

WACT’s Commercial Manager, Noah Sheriff, said “It is important to note that this new service will call WACT Onne weekly, coupled with the benefit of a short transit time for cargo coming from Far East. This is a product many customers have been asking, and we at WACT shall ensure that we turn these vessels around quickly,” Sheriff said.

The East Nigeria Manager of Maersk Nigeria Limited, Chibuzor Ejiofor, said the ship call was historic and would benefit businesses in the area and its surroundings. She said there is a need to create awareness on the coming of KYPARISSIA not because she’s one of the largest vessels that ever called at Onne, but she is the first Far East vessel to call at Onne without calling at Lagos ports.

“Not to impact the Onne based customers or cargo destined for eastern Nigeria so much, Maersk decided to put Onne on a direct service from Far East, that doesn’t mean that Maersk doesn’t call Lagos. We are still calling Tin Can and Apapa but that is on another service altogether. We now have a service that comes all the way from the Far East to Onne without calling Lagos.

So, for Onne based customers, I think that’s something to be really attractive as it adds value to your business. You can get your cargo on time directly from Far East without adding 30 days of Lagos waiting time. You can turn around your money, your products and that’s why we are here just to recognise this unique offering to our customers,” she said.

WACT has been handling gearless vessels, which previously could only be handled at the ports in Lagos, since 2019 after spending $14 million in its Phase 1 upgrade to acquire modern cargo equipment including two Mobile Harbour Cranes, 14 specialised terminal trucks and two reach stackers. The investment brought high operational efficiency and set WACT apart from other ports in Nigeria.

Stakeholders maintained that WACT, which has become the preferred container terminal outside the Lagos area, was fast gaining  reputation as the gateway to eastern Nigeria and the alternative to the ports in Lagos.