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Long waiting time, absence of holding-bay impeding barge operation in Nigeria

…As NPA issues new operational licenses

Long waiting time at port terminals and absence of holding- bay to drop empty containers have been identified as challenges confronting operators of barges used in lifting cargoes from Nigerian ports.

According to them, barges spend a minimum of four days at terminals, which translates into cost for owners or operators of barges.

Edeme Kelikume, Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN), told Daily Trend News recently in an interview that one of the biggest challenges confronting barge operation in Nigeria is absence of holdingbay for dropping of empty containers.

He also pointed out that barges spend at least four days at the port terminal while evacuating containers and such challenge results to additional cost for operators, who must have hired cargo handling equipment.

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“The biggest challenge that maritime industry is facing today is empty containers and the shipping lines are taking advantage of the situation. Importers are being made to pay heavily as demurrage, yet there is no facility for dropping empty containers after offloading the imports,” he said.

Continuing, he said that ports are also not receiving empty containers when importers offload the cargoes yet the shipping lines charge demurrage on empty containers that were not returned as and when due.

Kelikume further noted that when barge operators spend up to four days at the terminal, they pay daily cost for the equipment that were either hired or owed.

He however disclosed that the Nigerian Ports Authority ( NPA) has issued new operating licenses to barge owners to evacuate cargoes from Nigerian ports and help in reducing the gridlock at port roads in Lagos.

This new licenses, according to him, is in addition to 36 operators registered under BOAN membership.

Tony Iju Nwabunike, national president of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), said the activities of barge operators contribute towards the revenue generated by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) into the Federation account.

He also said that barging is one of the most effective means of moving cargo especially in the wake of port congestion and persistent gridlock in and out of ports in Apapa.

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