By GODFREY BIVBERE
IN a bid to boost its marine operations, the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has acquired two new pilot cutters and two new tug boats.

The pilot cutters, constructed at Damen shipyard in Rotterdam, Netherlands, are scheduled to commence their voyage from the yard to Nigeria this week. Pilot cutters are fast boats used to take marine pilots from harbour to incoming large trading vessels and back.

Vanguard gathered that the two new pilot cutters are being supplied by Landfall Transport & Towage Services Limited. The authority is expected to receive two new pilot cutters in April.

NPA has also awarded contract to Messrs Depassa Nigeria Limited for the supply of two new tug boats to boost its fleet.

A tugboat is a boat that manoeuvres vessels by pushing or towing them. Tugs move vessels that either should not move themselves, such as ships in a crowded harbour or a narrow canal or those that cannot move by themselves, such as barges, disabled ships, or oil platforms.

Tugboats are powerful for their size and strongly built, and some are ocean-going.

Some tugboats serve as ice breakers or salvage boats.

At present, the NPA has only three pilot cutters in service in the Lagos Harbour. Of these three pilot cutters, the NPA owns only one while two are leased.

Vanguard investigation revealed that the NPA currently has six functional tug boats operating in Lagos Harbour, whereas up to twelve tug boats are required for effective operation in the area.

The acquisition of the new tugs, which are more powerful than the existing NPA tugs, has also become imperative because bigger vessels are now calling at Nigerian ports.

The new tugs, billed to arrive Nigeria by middle of July, this year, are mid-range with the capacity for 50 tons pull, as against the 25 to 45 tons pull of those in the NPA’s current fleet.

With about 4,000 vessels expected in the Lagos Pilotage District this year, representing about 90 per cent of total vessels coming into the country, the acquisition of these new marine craft is to position the NPA to effectively cope with the increased ship traffic and meet the increasing demands of modern-day vessel operation.

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