Nigeria shipping industry has been faced with numerous challenges ranging from operational activities and administrative challenges in the ports. One of such unending challenges is the issue of movements of containers from one point of destination to the other.
Over the years, road movement of containers is considered the only mode of transportation since the collapse of functional rail system in the early 1990’s. With the pangs of the blocked port access roads, there have been call to source alternative modes of transportation to help mitigate the accidents and losses encountered using the port roads.
In bid to sort this challenge, experts and stakeholders argued that railway system, barge operations, feeder vessels should be considered as alternative to the road movements of consignments from the Lagos ports.
However, many terminal operators have already adopted barges as an alternative option for cargo transfer in view of the deplorable access roads that have made transfer through the road a terrible experience.
According to reports, over a million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) containers and more than 10,000 trucks have been moved via barges in the last three years, since barging was introduced as a circumstantial development to dissipate the pangs of the impassable port access roads in 2018.
Meanwhile, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) had concluded plans to commence barge operations from Lagos ports to Onitsha after issuing licences to eight operators.
Even as the shipping industry gets to solve its transportation challenges, there is need for Nigerian regulatory authorities to consider these five (5) things before the movements of consignments from the Lagos ports to Onitsha begin;
1. Security/ safety of cargoes: the safety of cargoes is key, and time of movements must be properly planned and sorted out before operation begins.
2. Dredging: industry experts have warned that the water needs to be dredged further to aid barge operations; this should be prioritized.
3. NIMASA and Nigerian Navy should develop strategies to stop operations of unlicensed barges, while NPA and NIWA synergize to get unlicensed barge jetties out of operations.
4. Tugboats should be attached to barges berthed in the port area to expedite response to salvage barges during accidents.
5. Every barge should possess standard pumping machines which can be essential when barges start taking in water.
Content created and supplied by: Ayoolalaitan (via Opera News )
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