A frontline barge operator, Mr. Yinka Bakare has raised an alarm over what he described as lack of security for barge operation in the country.
Bakare who said this in a chat with Shipping Position Daily, in Apapa on Tuesday, reiterated that with adequate security, barges can be used to move containers to as far as Onitsha river ports in Anambra State and Baro ports in Niger state.
He said that by using barges to move containers to the ports, the roads can last longer and the chaotic traffic situation can be properly addressed.
"There is also security concerns in the movement of barges, the barges can be used up to Anambra where we have jetties in Onitsha, it can also be used up to Baro ports and all that"
Explaining further, he said, "you can imagine if a barge carrying up to 250 containers in a day and within five to six days, they are already in Onitsha, you can imagine how the roads will be, the level of traffic it will take away. And if you have up to four or five barges that can be moving to that place in a week, the port over there will be functioning very well. He however added that the security challenges on the waterways need to be looked into.
Bakare, who is also the national president of the National Association of Air Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC), however said that barge operation is supposed to be the cheapest mode of transportation, even as he urged the government to do something to ensure the haulage rate is regulated.
"I just believe that the government can do something because the barge movement is supposed to be the cheapest to make movement easy and evacuation of cargoes"
Bakare nevertheless urged operators to be law obedient by ensuring that they get the necessary requirements before venturing into the business.
" I think it will be wise for you to get a permit from LASWA and same applies when your using NIWA's jetty. Everyone has their own territory where they control, I don't think we are having any issue with any agency. It is just a mere agency-to-agency supremacy war which we have been witnessing here in Nigeria"
"I don't think there is anything difficult in LASWA guideline for barge operation, most of the things they ask for are the things you are supposed to have as an operator", he stated,
On the feud between the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) over who controls barge operation, he said, it’s an issue between two agencies of two governments
"I think it is a government to government stuff, everybody wants to be important in his or her own way. The mandate of NIWA is also the mandate of LASWA, NIWA is a federal government agency and they have been in existence for years now before LASWA came on board"
You know NIWA has already been controlling a lot of jetties before LASWA came in. During the time of the former managing director of NIWA, they had an agreement between the two agencies on jurisdiction, if you are using LASWA's jetty" he recalled.