By DAPO OLAWUNI
In what seems like a direct response to the call of the Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN), the Federal Maritime Agencies Committee on activities of barge operations on Lagos waterways on Thursday clamped down on illegal barge and jetty operators around the kirikiri lighter terminal which is a notorious hideout for deviant elements.
Recall that on 6th of March 2021, a barge accident occurred along KLT/Mile 2 – Maza Maza water channels where about six (6) 40ft containers said to contain electronics (new LED TV sets) went down the water deep. The containers were valued at over Five Hundred Million Naira (N500, 000,000.00)
In a show of massive enforcement led by operatives and security officers from National Inland Waterways waterways Authority (NIWA) Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigerian Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) the team sealed up illegal jetties, loading bays and impounded tug boats without approved certifications along the very busy channel.
Barges seen wrongly anchored and obstructing visibility on the channel were immediately compelled to move out of the right of way and find better access and approved access to operate.
The action of the task force on Thursday which took most barge operators and illegal jetty Operators by surprise, was sequel to the recent uproar generated by careless barge operators and unlicensed tug boat crew members, some leading to avoidable fatalities.
Chairman of the federal agencies Committee on the activities of barge operations, Captain Daniel Hosea Gangun stated that the committee would not relent until there’s total compliance of barge and illegal jetty Operators to adhere to extant regulations on transportation on the Waterways.
On the buy-in by stakeholders, Captain Gangun discolsed that the organised private sector barge operators association gave its nod to the enforcement regime, adding that their petitions to sanitize barge operations informed the federal agencies intervention.
Accordingly, the sealed illegal jetties and Tugboats without approved documentations, were manned by NIWA police to prevent violation of the seal order. The clamp down and enforcement iniative is ongoing and would visit other channels within and around the Lagos waterways in weeks to come.