The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has urged terminal operators not to demand the collection of a N20 million bank bond from barge operators while stating that it will deploy electronic call-up system for barge operations across the nation’s seaports.
A statement issued by the general manager, corporate and strategic communications, Olaseni Alakija, said the acting managing director, Mohammed Bello-Koko disclosed this during an interactive session with members of Barge Operators of Nigeria (BOAN), who paid him a working visit in Lagos.
The NPA boss who promised to liaise with the relevant government agencies for a downward review of prevailing charges on carriage of containers, said barges will remain at their anchor until they are called to pick or discharge cargo at various terminals.
He said, “under the new set of regulations, an electronic call up system is being developed for deployment for barge operations in which barges would remain at their anchor until they are called to pick or discharge cargo. This is aimed at streamlining their movements to reduce congestion and possible threat to ocean going vessels.”
He continued, “The NPA has in this regard also set out to capture a comprehensive profile of all barge operators, which will highlight the carriers’ corporate name, to make for easy identification, especially in line with efforts to check the deployment of dilapidated barges that are in poor state and do not meet the minimum standards for barges and tugboats.”
“All terminal operators are advised not to demand the collection of N20 million bank bond. The management will also liaise with the relevant government agencies for a downward review of prevailing charges on carriage of containers,” he said.
The authority also said it has established a regulatory framework for the operation of barges across the nation’s seaports under a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which must be complied by all operators effective September 1, 2021.
Further to this development, the NPA is poised to review the modalities for the registration of barge operating licence with emphasis on operators meeting the Minimum Safety Standards ((MSS) of their barges as failure to meet this requirement will bar an operator from using the channel.
Bello Koko stated that with the new initiative, barge operations and all operators are required to key into these regulatory provisions, saying government has instituted a binding tariff scheme payable to NPA as well as to the operators.
“There would be a harmonised interactive session (berthing meetings) between the barge operators and the relevant designated port managers for specific areas where information sharing would be prioritised accordingly,” he said. The meetings are envisaged to create a forum where illegal barge and jetty operators would be identified.
On communication, the acting managing director hinted that henceforth, the installation of acceptable UHF Radio communication devices as well as navigational lights on board crafts would be among the critical mandatory requirements for operators by September 1 to ensure safe and secured operational services.
Koko solicited for the collaboration of stakeholders in ensuring that best practices are strictly adhered to in this respect, informing stakeholders that amongst the expected requirements for barge operators, there would be class and personnel certification in order to ensure that they are sea worthy.