Barge accident : Stakeholders want full compensation for cargo owners
* Accuses regulatory agencies of negligence
(Report by Udeme Clement):
As owners of the goods count their losses following the barge accident estimated at over N500million, which occurred on March 6, 2021, stakeholders in the maritime industry are accusing regulatory agencies of negligence.
Stakeholders, who expressed great displeasure on the unfortunate accident said, it could have been avoided, if not for lapses on the part of government agencies licensing and regulating barge operations in the maritime sector.
Stakeholders comprising Shippers Association of Lagos; Ndigboamaka Progressive Traders Association; Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREEFN); African Professional Freight & Logistics of Nigeria (APFLON); Congregation of Registered Freight Forwarding Practitioners of Nigeria (CREEFPON); Justice & People Care Foundation (JPF), Sea Empowerment and Research Centre, in a joint press conference called for immediate resignation of the heads of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), as well as National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
The former President, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Eugene Nweke, who coordinated the conference said, “Nigeria is lacking in effective regulation. Nothing works in Nigeria except corruption. The whole system is upside-down.
“Government should do the needful to ensure sanity in the system. The need for a legislative and firm economic regulation in the port industry cannot be over emphasised
“Trades are highly choked and excessively charged, not on the wishes of Federal Government, but on the conspiracy of cabals, as well as syndicated operations. The multiplier effects are inflation and high cost of imported goods at the market. Consumers are at the receiving end.
“We want the report of investigation undertaken by NIMASA to be in the public domain, as soon as possible’.
Also speaking, the President, Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS), Rev Jonathan Nicol, pointed out; “proper licensing and regulations of barge, jetty operators and its related operations cannot be overemphasised.
“Hence, it is criminal attending to regulatory obligations with gross nonchalant and negligence, or without utmost good faith at all times.
“We say this following the barge accident that occurred on March 6, 2021, along KLT/Mile 2 – Maza -maza water channels, where about six (6) 40ft containers of electronics (new LED TV sets), went down the water deep with the laden cargo valued at over N500million, as reported in the media.”
He added: “It has been reported that over one (1) million TEUs and more than 10,000 trucks, have been moved through barges in the last three years.
“Agreeably, it could be said that in recent times, without the intervention of barge operations amid the reported ailing port congestion, chaotic port access roads, and corrupt practices therein, the port situation would have been compounded.
“Notwithstanding the prevalent situation, it is not a leeway or a suggestion that barge operations should thrive on the premise of carefree and negligence, nor professionalism jettisoned, nor operational abuses, high handedness condoned or regulatory obligations compromised at will.
“These unpleasant occurrences prompted this joint press conference, on grounds that necessary caution, or adequate measures aimed at protecting cargo were neglected”.