The new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for barge operators on Nigerian waters is billed to take effect from today, September 1, 2021.
Making the disclosure during an interactive session with members of Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN) in Lagos recently, the acting Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko, said the Authority has reviewed the modalities for the registration of barge operating license with emphasis on operators meeting the minimum safety standards (MSS) of their barges and their payment obligations.
He said failure to meet these requirements would force the NPA to bar such operators from using the channels. 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.
The aim is streamline barge movements to reduce congestion and disturbance to ocean going vessel operations.
In the new dispensation, NPA plans to come up with a comprehensive profile of all barge operators, their corporate identities and equipment to check the deployment of dilapidated barges and tugboats.
Koko said henceforth all operators must key into the new regulatory provisions, including a new tariff scheme for consignees and royalties payable to the NPA.
“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 expected to create a forum where illegal barge and jetty operators would be identified. To create a relief for the barge operators, the NPA boss advised all terminal operators not to demand the collection of a N20m bank bond, with a promise to liaise with the relevant government agencies for a downward review of prevailing charges on carriage of containers.