The Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN) has blamed inadequate security for the delayed take-off of movement of containers from Lagos to Onitsha via barges.
Recall that NIWA in March 2021 announced plans to move 1000 containers by barges from Lagos to Onitsha.
Speaking exclusively with the Nigerian Tribunein Lagos, President of BOAN, MrBunmiOlumekun explained that due to huge funds spent by barge operators to hire security along the eastern routes of the nation’s waterways, the idea of moving 1000 containers from Lagos to Onitsha has remained in the works for more than a year now.
According to Mr. Olumekun, “yes, NIWA approached us to move containers from Lagos to Onitsha. We bought the idea because it will help decongest the ports and help increase the life span of our highways.
“We wanted to commence, but the issue of who pays for security for such trips couldn’t be resolved. Some of our members occasionally take containers from Lagos to Warri, and it cost our members huge funds to provide security for such trips.
“We asked NIWA who will bear the cost of hiring security for movement of containers from Lagos to Onitsha. That area of the arrangement is yet to be sorted.
“We cannot pay for security and still charge the normal rates for such trips, and the owners of the cargoes don’t want to bear the cost of hiring security. The cargo owners only want to pay the normal rate to move containers from Lagos to Onitsha.
“Since the owners don’t want to bear the cost of such expenses, it will be unfair for us to bear such cost. We are private investors and are in business to make profit.
“Except government finds a way to provide security for us, the movement of containers from Lagos to Onitsha will remain in the works.”
Recall that the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) in 2021 said it will begin the movement of containers from Lagos ports to Onitsha River Port.
The agency, said it is targeting about 1,000 containers to be hauled per trip from Lagos ports to Onitsha River Port within the maximum duration of 4 days.
NIWA said it is engaging the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) and other stakeholders to facilitate the commencement of the cargo haulage.
NIWA added that it would engage the services of Akewa Colmar Terminal Limited (ACTL), to effectively move containers using barges via Burutu Port in Delta state.
“The idea of hauling containers via Burutu Ports to Onitsha River Port is to deliberately avoid the two small bridges of Gbarekolo and Bumandi.
“Because the two bridges are too tiny and shallow for sea moving badges or vessels to ply through, that is why the company (ACTL) is considering the route from Lagos ports to Burutu Port then to Onitsha River Port as final destination,” NIWA said in 2021.