*Laments poor regulation of barge operations
- 1million containers moved by barge from Lagos ports annually – Says BOAN President
(Report by Udeme Clement):
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has urged Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN), to look inward and sanitise its operations by curbing what he described as
proliferation of illegal barge operators in Nigerian waters.
He made this known while addressing BOAN members at the first annual convention of the association, held in Lagos yesterday.
Speaking through his representative, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, the Minister stated emphatically that
barge operations have not been properly regulated over the years, though the barge sub-sector plays important role in the economy.
Amaechi, disclosed that the Ministry is engaging Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA); Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA); Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), as well as the terminal operators to design standard operating procedures for barge operations.
This, he said becomes necessary to ensure safety and security of the operating environment at all times.
On cargo evacuation from seaports, Amaechi informed that the
Ministry has given a directive to terminal operators, to create a window, which will serve as a loading point for barges, in order to fast track cargo evacuation from the ports.
Also speaking, the President of BOAN, Mr. Edeme Kelikume, highlighted the importance of barge operations in the maritime industry, even as he revealed that
About 1million TEUs of containers and 500,000 metric tons of general cargoes are currently being moved from Lagos ports by barges annually.
He added that more than 50, 000 trucks are equally being ferried across Lagos waters while 25, 000 vehicles imported into the country are moved by barges to various destinations each year.
Mr Kelikume, mentioned lack of easy access to funds as one of the major challenges facing local barge operators in Nigeria.
The BOAN President said local operators need funds to purchase modern equipment, to enhance efficiency in their operations.
He appealed to the Federal Government on the urgent need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), for BOAN members to access more money for expansion and man-power development in the maritime industry.
His words; “The local operators are competing with foreign multinationals and are struggling to stay afloat in business.
Therefore, we believe CVFF and other funds being held by various organisations will be veritable tools to grow the barge sub-sector, to create more jobs for our people.”