Barge Operators Association of Nigeria has suspended Lagos operatios for two days.
The decision to suspend operations is coming after a barge accident on Saturday involving goods worth over N500m. The incident saw containers, some reportedly carrying expensive LED television sets, falling off around the Mazamaza water channel.
BOAN made the announcement during a press briefing in Apapa, Lagos State.
According to the group, the two-day shutdown of barging services will enable the regulator, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, inspect all barges and those which fail the test will be pushed out of the system.
The President of BOAN, Mr. Edeme Kelikume, noted that the suspension of activities would take place this week after a crucial meeting with the regulators and stakeholders.
Kelikume, however, stressed that the suspension of activities would enable barge operators re-train their captains and officials on safety and best practices in the business.
“BOAN will write to terminals and shipping companies not to engage barges, which fail the test during this period,” Edeme posited.
The group also lamented that the high rate of barge accidents could be attributed to substandard jetties, improper loading by operators and lack of balance on the barges.
Despite the recurring barge accidents in recent times, BOAN said that none of its members had been involved; hence, the group proposed that every barge operator in the pilotage district should be a member of BOAN.
Edeme stated that over one million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units and more than 10,000 trucks had been moved via barges in the last three years, adding that top companies might have shut down without the intervention of barging due to the chaotic port access roads.
The BOAN boss called on the Nigerian Ports Authority, NIMASA and National Inland Waterways Authority to address the overlapping functions in regulating jetties and barge operations.
He also advised that tugboats be attached to barges in the pilotage area, for speedy response when accidents occur.
Also speaking at the meeting, a member of BOAN, Wilson Ugbo, lamented the influx of unlicensed and unregulated barges in the country.
Ugbo noted that accidents occur even in top maritime nations where best practices were prioritised, but stressed that no properly licensed barge operator would be victim of the numerous cases in Nigeria.