The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said, it is dissatisfied with the operations of the barge operators operating on the nation’s inland waterways
In an interactive session with journalists, over the weekend, the authority’s managing director, Mohammed Bello-Koko, said NPA will be introducing new requirements for the shipping service providers, saying those who fail to meet the new requirements may have their licences revoked.
Bello-Koko said the authority had noticed some of the barges sinking, containers falling off at berth, some bruising vessels discharging at berth, a development he said was not acceptable.
He said: “most of the barges do not have communication systems. They are not branded; whenever they commit an offence, we don’t even know who is who. Most of the pilots don’t even care; they operate it as if they are driving a vehicle.
“Sometimes, you wake up in the morning and you’ll be hearing a vessel horning. Every time they are horning, sometimes they are telling someone to get off the channel. In fact, we have witnessed cases where a vessel anchored in the middle of the channel because of a barge blocking the channel and that has to stop or we start seizing those non-complaint barges.”
He further disclosed that, what the organistion wants to do was to set new standards to ensure quality services among the operators as he disclosed further that barges that were not safe still operate in the system.
“We are going to be very firm as regards this.
into the middle of the channel, we are done in this country. In few weeks to come, we’ll not allow some of those barges to work. Some weeks ago, a barge sneaked out to work and it bruised a vessel that was offloading liquid cargo.
“You go to Kirikiri and see double-banking and in some places it is triple-banking. So, we are saying this in advance now, we would delist those that we feel do not meet our requirements, those that meet our requirements, we would give them additional requirements to meet,” he said.According to the MD, it wasn’t about the quantity or numbers of barges in the sector but about quality and standard, even as, the MD rued the numbers of containers falling off badges.
“It is not the number that matters, it is the quality, we have seen videos of containers falling off barges at berth, we have seen barges sinking also. So, it is not the number of barges that is important, it is the quality of the barges,” he said.