Port Congestion: Inland Waterways to the Rescue as Agency Warns Barges/Tugboats Operators
The Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, has warned barges and tugboat operators against the use of substandard and sea unworthy crafts,Business and Maritime West Africa has reported.
This followed recent mishaps of containers falling into the lagoon while being convened on beaches and tugboats to Epe and Ikorodu terminals.
In addition ,the agency also warned terminal operators against container dual stacking, pending when the barges have been certified sea worthy and equipped with the right capacity to double stack containers.
Addressing stakeholders in Lagos recently, the Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Engr. Sarat Braimah said the agency plans to carry out audit and registration of all barges and tugboats interested in cargo evacuation.
Speaking with stakeholders on the development, the NIWA Lagos boss said, “due to the congestion at our ports which was caused by the Apapa traffic gridlock, the Nigerian Ports Authority called us for a meeting and informed us that they have given some people license to lift cargoes by barges using our inland waterways.
“The routes for cargo evacuation by barges are Apapa to Ikorodu and Apapa to Epe. We were happy with the NPA initiative because having all containers leave the port by road is crippling our port system.
“Unfortunately, just two months after the commencement of cargo evacuation by barges at our seaports, we started having containers falling into the Lagoon, the same way containers used to fall off from the back of trucks on Ojuelegba bridge.
“From our investigation, we found out that the problem has to do with the quality of tug boats and barges. We want to appeal to investors interested in moving cargoes by barges to do it right. I have told the barge operators to look for funds to ensure they are doing the business properly.
“I have told them that henceforth, the survey and registration of their barges must strictly come from the NIWA Lagos office. We will only give the permit to any barge that we have certified that is fit and capable of doing the cargo evacuation business on our waters.
“The first mishap that occurred was because the Tug boat had only one engine and was carrying twelve containers from the Ikorodu terminal to Apapa. The containers were being taken to APM Terminal at Apapa port, and all of a sudden, right in the middle of the Lagos lagoon, the only engine of the Tug boat developed a fault at Elegbata. With a faulty engine, the Tug boat could no longer manoeuvre the barge, and the heavy tides of the Lagos Lagoon threw some of the containers off balance on the barge, and they fell into the lagoon.
“The second mishap occurred when a barge operator loaded about twelve containers from Apapa port, and the containers fell off because they were doubled stacked, that is each container had another one on top of it on the barge.”
“We cannot continue to have containers fall into our waterways. God forbid if a boat carrying passengers was approaching, what could have happened? So we have directed that no barge operator should double-stack containers on our waterways henceforth.
Speaking on the development, Ikorodu chapter chairman of ANLCA, Prince Lawaol Jimoh noted that the initiative to utilize the waterways will achieve more when NPA completes the ILT anchorage with the complement of about 10 standard jetties built into the project.
His words, “NPA should complete the Ikorodu jetty so that barges bringing containers from Apapa or Tin Can ports are further assured of safety and timely discharge. Now the barges are anchoring from only two points, but when the jetties are completed, 15 barges can line up and discharge within short space of time.
“From discussions, I have become aware that there are others interested in barge business but the supporting infrastructure like jetties is discouraging many. With just one or two jetties, barges are queuing up, whereas the Ikorodu Terminal can take 100 containers daily moved by barges. If the NPA can complete the Ikorodu project in a timely manner, it will help”,he said.