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Barge operators decry lack of space for operations at ports

Segun Oladipupo

Barge owners Wednesday, harped on the need for the federal government to approve designated points for barges to lift cargoes in and out of existing terminals at the two seaports in Lagos.

Prince Adeyinka Bakare, barge owner who doubles as the President General of National  Association of Air Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC) made this known in a chat with newsmen in Lagos.

Bakare reiterated that barging activities within the Lagos seaports have failed to address the lingering gridlock along the corridor due to lack of points to load when vessels occupy the berths of the terminals.

According to him, ships culling at the terminals most times frustrate barging activities because management of the terminals would stop all barge operations for the vessels to berth pending the number of days the vessel will take to discharge its cargo.

This process, he lamented, creates setbacks and bottleneck for cargoes to exit or enter the terminals smoothly.

He further called on management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to look inward to create designated points at all the terminals where barging operations exist, adding that traffic along the corridors can only be surmounted when there is easy movement of consignments through intermodal system of transportation.

Bakare who is the Chief Executive Officer, De Potter Nigeria Limited, also expressed disappointment over the E-Call up system introduced by NPA, pointing out that traffic would continue to linger apparently due to lack of infrastructure.

“As we speak there is no terminal that approve a portion of the berths for barging activities and I think its long overdue for such to be approved .

“Once a cargo laden vessel is set to berth at the terminal, all barging activities are suspended and this has not helped in anyway to facilitate trade coupled with bad condition of the roads.

“As long as the vessel is there, no barge operations can take place again and we want the government to look into this issue and engage  the concessionaires on the need to assign or designate some portion of the quay apron for barges to berth and discharge or load consignments despite the fact that the ship is also at berth.

Speaking on the call up system, he said “At the commencement of the ETO system, it recorded 3,000 entry but in two weeks later, the number rose to about 15,000 of unprocessed ETO and these are some of the things that may not be able to address the traffic madness on our roads because the capacity is not there to drive the application effectively.

While calling on promoters of the deep seaport in Lekki to expedite actions for the possible completion, the NAFFAC boss maintained that traffic can be reduced upon the commencement of the new seaports.

“The terminal operators are complaining of congestion because of the slow pace of movement of consignments in and out of the ports”.

He also lauded the efforts by the leadership of Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN) for engaging stakeholders on safety measures on cargoes and the water crafts saying in the last two years, accident on the waterways leading to huge losses of consignments was at its barest minimal.

Bakare maintained that accident on the waterways was inevitable but added that the association was able to sensitise its members on pre requisite knowledge of the operations.

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