NPA threatens to delist licences of non-compliant barge operators
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) says it is taking steps to delist licences of barges operating below standards to avert possible disasters in the Nigerian waters.
Mohammed Bello-Koko, the managing director of the NPA, who issued this warning in Lagos, said the authority has already further licensing of barges on hold pending a comprehensive review of existing licences and withdrawal of those that do not meet the requirements.
The NPA, he said, would further give additional requirements to those complying with the rules because the authority was seeing situations where containers fall off barges on waters, which is dangerous to safe shipping.
“We will soon come up with Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for barge operation in Nigeria in order to create minimum safety standards because we have all types and sizes of barges that are not safe to operate on our waters. We need to create standards and ensure quality before increasing the number,” he said.
Bello-Koko said the NPA would further ensure that the government generate revenue from barging because owners have been operating on free tickets for a long time, and that has to stop.
“We are going to be very firm, and if we need to be brutal, we will because the day a ship sinks in the middle of the channel, we are done. People would soon start hearing complaints and we would not allow them to blackmail us because of their economic interest. In the next few days, we will not allow some of these barges to operate and we will also insist they do not operate at night,” Bello-Koko said.
Citing an example, Bello-Koko said a barge recently sneaked out to operate at night and ended up bruising a vessel that was anchored and discharging petroleum cargo at one of the jetties.
“Imagine if that vessel had burst into flame. Go to Kirikiri and you will see some barges double banking, which is totally wrong. Most of the barges do not have a communication system and they are not branded as well such that when they commit any offense, you would not know the barge in question,” he added.
He said there had been a situation where the ship anchored in the middle of the channel because of a barge that was blocking the way.