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NPA to begin new operational guidelines for barges from Sept 1

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has set September 1, 2021, as the commencement date for a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for barges operating at the nation’s seaports.

Also, the NPA will further review the modalities for the registration of barge operating licenses with emphasis on operators meeting the minimum safety standards ((MSS).

Barging is another means of cargo evacuation using the inland waters. It makes for ease of cargo evacuation and helps to decongest both the port and roads leading to the port.

A statement by Olaseni Alakija, general manager, Corporate & Strategic Communications of the NPA, states that upon the commencement of the new guidelines, operators who fail to meet the requirement will be banned from using the water channel.

“Under the new guideline, an electronic call-up system would be developed and deployed for barge operations where barges would be required to remain at their anchor until they are called to pick or discharge cargo. This will streamline the movement of barges to reduce congestion and possible threat to ocean-going vessels,” Alakija states.

He notes that the NPA has started to develop a comprehensive profile of all barge operators that will highlight corporate names to make for easy identification in line with efforts to check barges that do not meet the minimum standards for barges and tugboats.

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Mohammed Bello-Koko, acting managing director of the NPA, said during an interactive session with members of Barge Operators of Nigeria (BOAN) on a working visit at the Authority’s corporate headquarters in Lagos that all operators are required to key into the regulatory provisions.

He said that barges that have been operating for close to three years without paying any tariff would now be required to make payments to the NPA to generate more revenue for the government.

“There would be a harmonised interactive session (berthing meetings) between barge operators and relevant designated Port Managers for specific areas where information sharing would be prioritised accordingly,” he said.

He however advised all terminal operators not to demand the collection of N20 million bank bonds, with a promise to liaise with the relevant government agencies for a downward review of prevailing charges on the carriage of containers.

On communication, he said there will be an installation of acceptable UHF Radio communication devices as well as navigational lights onboard crafts to aid safe operation by September 1.

He solicited the collaboration of stakeholders in ensuring that best practices are strictly adhered to, adding that there would be class and personnel certification of barges to ensure they are sea-worthy.

To ensure safe navigation of barges, tug masters are required to possess Pilot Exemption Certificate (PEC) even as nigh operations are abolished while double loading of barges is prohibited to prevent damage to the quayside.

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