Sealink to commence operation in Q4 2021- Chairperson



Sealink to commence operation in Q4 2021- Chairperson

By Folasade Akpan
Ms Dabney Shall-Holma, chair of Sealink’s implementation committee, said the Sealink project will start operating in the last quarter of 2021.

She made this known during an interview with the Nigerian News Agency (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja.

NAN reports that the Sealink project is a public-private partnership (PPP) agreement established to promote the development of a regional shipping company.

It aims to eliminate bottlenecks and non-tariff measures along the ECOWAS trade corridor.

Designed in 2011, it was scheduled to begin operations in 2020 but has been delayed due to disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Shall-Holma, a lot of things that should have been done in 2020 were not and it caused a setback.

She said the pandemic was a major disruption, but the organization was resilient in achieving its goal.

She added that Sealink avoided a rush at the start of operations.

This, she said, was aimed at avoiding mistakes as shipping was a long-gestation business and investments in it had no shortcuts to return on investment.

She said there had been so many preventable mistakes in the past because they thought they had it all in place.

“So to get a grip on ourselves we had to do things in a synchronized fashion so that when we go for it, we know there is no more fall and that we will be strong on the pitch.

“This is why we have waited so long, but to reassure you before the end of 2021, our ships will fly.

“They will fly the Nigerian Green-White-Green flag, which we haven’t seen in this climate for a long time.

“They will also be using all of our equipment which will be colored green-white-green, so that we can tell the world that we have arrived and that we are doing it.”

She said, however, that the main concern at the start of 2021 was that the organization had yet to secure maps on a mapped channel to start with inland waterways.

“Intra-coastal, we can do it, but then the whole goal is overcome because our emphasis is on deepening trade, opening up to the hinterland, opening up to places where there is cargoes of bales that cannot be evacuated.

“So what do we do with this. We knew we had to approach the Navy, we wrote them down, so they could actually survey and map and map the channel.

“Now when you buy a $ 20 million ship and want to put it in uncharted waters, no one will guarantee that for you and to fund an investment, no one is ready to back you and back you.

“So there will be no guarantees coming from anywhere until people can actually see that the canal is mapped, surveyed and mapped and once they are mapped the aids to navigation are there, as if you could actually deploy a ship the next day. “

She added that the organization was waiting for the Navy to finish its work.

“They’ve already ordered and they’ve been to the site, they’ve started a lot of reconnaissance, but they’re going to leave Ajaokuta and go to Onitsha which is the first segment.”

The president said the Niger and Bénoué rivers had been mapped into five segments.

Shall-Holma said the second Ajaokuta Jetty, which was once the Julius Berger Jetty, but belonged to the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, had been transferred to Sealink.

She said work had already started by engineers to modernize it.

She added that efforts were being made to ensure that as the ships arrived there was a point at which they could unload.

“Then we have a truck terminal that is right next to the pier, the truck terminal can accommodate up to 1,000 trucks and that’s the upper terminal that we will be using.

“We therefore entered into a bilateral agreement and a contractual agreement with the Ajaokuta steel complex and prepared all these facilities for operation.

“More importantly, we must also mention the role that has been played by the Department of Transportation in giving us the right of way in our Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

“(It’s) a tripartite memorandum of understanding with NIWA and then the Ministry of Mines and Steel to actually approve that we use the Ajaokuta facility.

“Although the deal was made between Ajaokuta Steel and Sealink and NEXIM Bank, the ministry had to give its approval for it.

“So that’s why we keep saying that the three Ps of the PPP deal are working and they are sparing no effort to ensure the success of the project. “(NAA)


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