Barge operators to suspend operations as accident gulps N500 million cargoes

The President, Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN) Mr. Edeme Kelikume and other members of BOAN; during a press briefing in Lagos, yesterday.

Following the ghastly barge accidents at the weekend conveying cargoes estimated to worth over N500 million, barge operations in Lagos will be suspended for two days.

An unpleasant barge accident on Saturday saw containers falling off around the Mazamaza water channel and some containers were reported to have expensive LED television sets.

Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN) revealed this during a press conference in Apapa, Lagos, yesterday.

According to the group, the two-day shutdown of barging services will enable the regulator, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) carry out inspection of all barges and those which fail the test will pushed out of the system.

The President of BOAN, Mr. Edeme Kelikume, noted that the suspension of activities will take place this week after a crucial meeting with the regulators and stakeholders.

He, however, stressed that the suspension of activities would enable barge operators retrain their captains and officials about 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 said.

The group also lamented that the high spate of barge accidents is attributable to substandard jetties, improper loading by operators and lack of balance on the barges.

Despite the recurring barge accidents in recent times, BOAN posited that none of its members have been involved in the accidents, hence, the group proposed that every barge operator in the pilotage district should be a member of BOAN.

Edeme stated that over 1million TEUs and more than 10,000 trucks have been moved via barges in the last three years, adding that top companies like Danone Sugar, BUA, among others may have shutdown without the intervention of barging amid the chaotic port access roads.

The BOAN President called on Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), NIMASA and National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to address the overlapping functions in regulating jetties and barge operations.

He also advised that tugboats be attached to barges in the pilotage area so that there could be speedy response when accidents occur.

Also speaking at the meeting, a member of BOAN, Mr. Wilson Ugbo lamented the influx of unlicensed and unregulated barges in the operations.

Ugbo noted that accidents occur even in top maritime nations where best practice is prioritized, but he stressed that no properly licensed barge operator would-be a victim of the numerous cases in Nigeria

Culled from MMS Plus

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