WATERWAYS ACCIDENTS: Barge Operators To Shutdown Operations for 2-Days

…Laments Influx of Unlicensed, Substandard Operators


Following the unfortunate barge accidents that occurred recently, involving several containers falling inside the Lagos waterways, the Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN) has said that it is shutting down the entire barging system in the Lagos waterways.

Speaking at a press briefing in Lagos yesterday, President of BOAN, Mr Kelikume Edeme said the objective of this shutdown is to carryout an emergency assessment of every barge operating within the Lagos pilotage district.

The assessment according to him would be carried out by professional surveyors licensed by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)
He assured that at the end of the assessment, the surveyors would produce reports, which the association would share with regulatory authorities concerned.

Members of BOAN in a group photograph after the press briefing in Lagos on Monday

He said that every single craft that does not pass the test would be blacklisted from operating in Lagos Lagos.

The BOAN president also assured that, in the cause of the two days shutdown, all Captains, Engineers currently manning these crafts would all go through rigorous training and retraining to ensure that minimum standard of safety are instilled in them.

He assured that all new crews coming into the waterways must pass through same system.

Speaking, he said “We are also proposing an emergency stakeholders meeting with all the regulatory agencies, terminal operators and barge operators. The meeting would hold this week”

“The Managing Directors of the following agencies would be in attendance; NPA, NIMASA, NIWA, LASWA, Shippers Council, Nigerian Navy, Marine Police, Customs Area Controlles, all terminal operators, licensed barge operators, jetty owners, commissioner of transport Lagos and other persons who have anything to do with our operations”

“We hope that they heed this invitation because the industry cannot afford one more accident like this again”

Edeme told journalists that the association has carried out investigations on the cause of accidents involving barges.

“One of the factors is substandard jetties, when you have substandard jetties, there is every possibility that you would have accident situations due to the structure of the jetty that is exposed to tide changes”

“Another factor is improper loading and lack of load balancing at the jetties and ports, resulting in a situation whereby the consignments are not properly balanced on the barge”

“You cannot also take away the fact that there are substandard barges, these barges were licensed by recognised government agencies but they are substandard”

“Leaving barges unattended by tug boats is also one of the cause for accidents.
Some of the boats do not have the required pumping machines”

“This association has been crying for a while now about the huge influx of unlicensed and unidentified operators, this has made it difficult to manage situations.
All the accident recorded so far, none are members of BOAN”

“Also of concern to us is the lack of due process and SOP at the port, the ports are not working in sync with other stakeholders, on some occasions, barges are called to the port but they have to queue and block the channel while waiting to offload or load, this should not be the case”

“There should be a waiting area and a proper call up system for these barges to come, so that we do not have congestion of barges in the port berthing areas like we have them in some locations today”

Edeme also said BOAN as an association had a two days session over the weekend to deliberate on matters arising and how to prefer lasting solutions, and have made recommendations which has been sent to regulatory authorities.

According to him, the association is proposing that every barge operator operating within the Lagos pilotage district must be a member of BOAN. He said a situation where a few operators operate in isolation to the larger body presents a lot of danger to the larger body.

Speaking on the two accidents that occurred recently, he said investigation is not concluded yet on the accidents.

He however said “What we suspect to have caused it are the factors we have highlighted. The first accident happened at Maza-Maza area of Lagos, it was as a result of substandard jetty. The second one that happened over the weekend was a loading issue and barge condition issue”

“In terms if losses, it would be at half a billion naira because each container is valued at N10million but it varies, I heard that one of the containers was filled with plasma television, that container would be valued at about N40million”

“Each barge was carrying 24 by 40foot containers, this is maximum capacity the barge can carry, the two accidents would have involved forty eight containers, all is half a billion Naira gone down the drain”

“But as a standard, there is always an insurance, there is GIT insurance, marine haul insurance, we have about five classes of insurance that we take out in order to manage the losses we incure”

“The minority that are not our members are the ones causing this havoc, this is why we are clamouring for everyone to come under BOAN”

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