Barges used by members of Barge Operators Association of Nigeria on the nation’s waterways are seaworthy, certified and registered by the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority before commencing operations; hence cannot submerge.
In a chat with newsmen in Lagos on Monday, the Vice Chairman of BOAN, Dr. Bunmi Olumekun, disagreed with the claim that barges used by BOAN members were rickety, not seaworthy and might submerge, causing big loss to importers and exporters.
Former national president of the National Association of Government-Approved Freight Forwarders, Dr. Eugene Nweke, had stated last week that many of the barges operating on the nation’s waterways were not structurally and technologically fit to sail.
Nweke, in the statement, advised the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency to begin re-inspection and re-classification of barges in operation.
But the BOAN vice president slammed Nweke, saying that he lacked knowledge about barge operations. He argued that BOAN members’ barges were seaworthy and complying with the rules as set by NIWA, though he admitted that there were some illegal operators.
He words, “Nweke lacks knowledge about barge operation; he should double-check his fact before foreseeing submerging of barges because our barges are certified by NIWA. They are seaworthy, although we cannot rule out some illegal operators who use rickety barges, but not BOAN members.
“All round the world, especially maritime countries, barges are being used to convey cargo from the ports, and Nigeria, as a maritime nation, cannot be left behind. It is big enough to use barge for conveying its cargo. It is the way to go and has come to stay in Nigeria.”
According to Olumekun, barge is cheaper and faster than truck, with neither traffic impediment nor tout to interfere.
“A barge operator charges N300,000 to convey a container from Tin Can Island Port to Ikorodu, and from here, a trucker collects N200,000 to take the container to any part of Lagos around Ikorodu, making it N500,000. But a trucker would charge N1.5 million directly from Tin Can to Ikeja or Ikorodu. Our charges are very cheap. This is the easiest and cheapest way to move cargo out of the ports,” he added.
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