The management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) 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 authority is poised to review the modalities for the registration of barge operating license with emphasis on operators meeting the minimum safety standards of their barges. Failure to meet this requirement will bar an operator from using the channel.
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.
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.
The acting Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello Koko, made these known while speaking during an interactive session with members of Barge Operators of Nigeria (BOAN) who paid him a working visit recently at the authority’s corporate headquarters on Marina, Lagos.
Speaking during the meeting, Bello Koko stated that it is a new era in barge operations and all operators are required to key into this regulatory provisions.
Koko also told the barge operators that 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.
These meetings are envisaged to create a forum where illegal barge and jetty operators would be identified and stopped.