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Barges: Expert Calls for Review of Maritime Agencies ACTs

by timenews
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…advocates effective use of barges for water transportation

The President of Nigerian Association Masters Mariners, Capt. Tajudeen Alao, called on the Maritime agencies to up their Acts in order to regulate validity of the barges used in Nigeria as well as the crew manning them.

This is just as he called for the re-invention of barges for major transportation by water, saying that they are effective in movement of heavy cargoes and would equally curb traffic congestion at the ports.

In an exclusive interview with Timenews, Alao said he was in support of use of barge in water transportation because it is globally done and accepted, adding that prior to this time primarily all goods and exports from the interior to the South of the Country were formerly done by barges

He explained that barges are very useful to move large tons of cargoes with ease thereby reducing traffic congestion at the ports.

He said: “I support the use of barge for water transportation because it is done all over the world; on River Orion, or River Mercy, Manchester to Liverpool, Mississippi, River Otario, etc, movement of goods by barges.

“In Nigeria in those days primarily all the goods and exports from the interior to the South were by barges. So it is a good thing for us to welcome and re-invent.

“There was a Company specially set up for that purpose at the time, the Headquarter was at Lokoja but it folded up, they moved produce down South; palm cannel, groundnut, sorghum, etc.

“Imagine a barge of a thousand to two thousand will carry the load of 30 to 100 road trailers at a go because if you value the trailer it is 30 tons multiply by 30 which is 900 tons.

“So, if you are talking of 2000 barges you’re talking of 65 trailer loads that will be on those barges and they will move it easily.

“Barge is the best, that’s what we were using in Nigeria before, and there was inland waterways created for that department and the people driving them were certificated water master, river master and the barges were solid for that purpose.

“It was a big a Company removing grains by sea from Baro, from Newman to Lokoja, Lokoja to Idah, Idah to Asaba, Asaba to Sapele, from Sapele to Warri, to Gbokoja, to Lagos or down Degema to Port Harcourt. Coal was moved like that.

“More so, the use of barges will reduce traffic and a lot of things; you see Tin Can Port was built because Lagos was over-laboured.”

Alao pointed out that the use of barge for water transportation in Nigeria started losing relevance in the days of oil boom when subsequent governments because of the resultant affluence stopped it.

“God endowed us with these rivers but subsequent governments when affluence came stopped barge transportation; you remember before 1960 there was no plane so people going abroad went by sea but sea takes longer time.

“However, sea is the best environmentally mode of transportation. If you move things by water you can move so much at a go.

“Imagine 30 trailers coming to load in Lagos and you can put about 100 trailers cargo in a barge, just that the time is longer, but from here to go to Kano now takes a long time.

“What I worry about now is security, in those days the environment was safer, now environment is not safe any longer because of piracy and other sea-related issues,” he explained.

However, reacting to the recent record of loss on sea with barge, he noted that most of the barges currently in use by private jetties in Nigeria are substandard; not sea worthy and some of the people manning them have fake certificates.

In line with this, Alao called on the Nigeria Inland Water Ways (NIWA), Nigeria Maritime Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to up their ‘ACTs’ and ensure the barges and those manning them are properly regulated with sanctions.

His words: “I would not want to preempt the outcome of the investigation but from what is out there, most of those jetties are not regulated; so some of those barges they are using carry fake documents, they are not sea worthy and some of the people manning the barges have fake certificates.

“Some of the stevedores loading are not registered. In all these private jetties a lot of things go on there so the government agencies responsible for maritime matters – Nigeria Inland Water Ways (NIWA), Nigeria Maritime Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) have up their ‘ACTs’ and ensure it is no longer business as usual.

“Even inside those cargoes there are toxic ones and that is how they go into the water. It is a good thing to move the barges from here to Ikorodu where we have a big jetty but they have turned it to another thing.

“These barges are supposed to be inspected to confirm if the certificates are valid but they go and get fake certificates to say that their certificates are valid.

“Even if your certificate is valid there must be enforcement by the government and the owner must ensure it is well maintained and the person who wants to hire it must get a competent person who will do a pre-mobilisation to check the certificate and see the barge physically to confirm its sea-worthiness.

“Though NIMASA issues the certificate but in life, it is said ‘buyer beware;’ so you that is hiring the barge should also ensure it is in a good state because all over the world people forge things.

“So both the agency enforcing and the user should ensure the certificate is genuine. Employ somebody to check it for you.”



Photo caption:

Capt. Alao, President Nigerian Association of Master Mariners


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