The licensing of barge operation by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has continued to boost operations at the Tin-Can Island Ports Complex, Lagos.
Daily Trust learnt that the increase in the number of barge operators working in Lagos waters accounts for the movement of over 7,000 empty containers weekly and had contributed to the congestion inside the ports.
It was also learnt that over 40 per cent of cargoes which come into the country through the Tin-can Island Port are now being moved by barges to various terminals outside the seaport.
The immediately past Port Manager, Tin-Can Island Port, Abubakar Umar, who disclosed this, said that the figure could be higher.
With the improved movement of cargoes, it was learnt, the NPA has been directing vessels destined for Apapa port to the Tin-Can Island Port.
Umar said that though he could not give the exact volume of cargo moved by barges from the port, he noted that a barge can move about 12×40ft containers at a go.
He added it would take about 12 trucks to move the same number of containers.
He said, “If you know the volume of cargo moved by barges, you will know that it has helped a lot. I must tell you that the use of barges is another part of the logistics chain. In some countries, they use barges because the inland waterways are functional. It helps in reducing the volume of trucks on the roads.
“Before now, I have been calling on some of these companies to venture into it but they were not willing to. What we are battling now is the control. It has helped in regulating their operations.
“You should know that the port does not receive consignments. It is the terminal. One terminal told me sometime ago that they have moved about 7,000 empties.
“Just do a little assessment: a barge that moves about 12 containers, how many trucks would be taken away from the road if it is a 40-footer? That is 12 trucks from the road.
“The waiting time of vessel has also improved because vessels do not wait outside too many days to come in. In fact, we have so many vessels that were diverted from Apapa to berth here.
“We are on top of it in collaboration with the terminal operators, ensuring that they are on top of the function to port users. The volume of trucks that accesses this port per week is an average of 7,000 empties.
“There are some vessels, based on the ports they are coming from in Europe, they have to spend the mandatory 14 days along the route before arriving Nigeria. “We were recording an average of one to two days waiting time for vessels to enter our port, and waiting time at berth came to four days because some terminals believed that the port management cannot talk to them.
“I wrote them a strong-worded letter based on the KPI set for them as per the liaise agreement and they immediately sat up and changed their mode of operation. Some times in a week we have between 14 and 19 ships at just the main port. And I am not talking about the jetties.”