Time, money and business in the ports of Lagos – Opinion – The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

Where problems exist and persist, there are usually opportunities. Such is the case of the perennial problems with the ports of Lagos where the traffic jams of ships, trucks and goods persist.

The ports of Lagos, the ports of Apapa and Tin-Can are the busiest in Nigeria and for this reason congestion exists and goods have remained stuck inside the ports. This situation makes the evacuation of cargoes difficult and it ultimately affects the ease of doing business in ports and even around the port environment. These situations continue to hamper trade facilitation, free movement and the ease of doing business in and around the Apapa region in Lagos State.

On the part of ships calling at Lagos ports, extraordinary delays are experienced due to this congestion and waiting times at terminals continue to exceed 20 days according to the findings, which is bad for all known economic reasons. .

The results further indicate that congestion in ports is largely due to inadequate and aging infrastructure, lack of automation, poor roads some of which are currently under repair, causing trucks to get stuck on the roads. roads for long hours and days. Another important reason is the state of rail transport which has forced 90 percent of goods to pass by road. These challenges are common and according to information gathered, some shipping companies sometimes divert cargo bound for Nigeria to nearby ports.

So, with ongoing congestion and terminal operators having very little storage space, opportunities exist in barge operations in the meantime to facilitate cargo evacuation processes in Lagos ports. According to indications, barge operations have been initiated by maritime regulators to reduce this congestion in ports but it is high time to pay more attention and its benefits.

A barge is a wide, flat boat, much like a raft built primarily for river and canal transport of bulk goods. The main reason for this particular shape is to ensure that the freight carrying capacity is improved and more volume can be transported and transferred over it. So, due to its design and utility, the use of barges can easily transport containers in and out of ports. Therefore, efficient and regulated barge operations can be an effective strategy to solve the main challenge of port congestion and can significantly reduce the pressure on the roads if they are properly regulated and used.

Undoubtedly, the use of barges can reduce cargo dwell time and turnaround time of ships calling at Lagos ports. Moreover, the use of barges to evacuate cargo from ports may become one of the sustainable ways to reduce the load on Nigerian roads, meanwhile. If the operation and configuration is done efficiently, it can help reduce the overall cost of cargo clearance. If barge operation is effectively adopted, the port’s capacity to receive more imports will be strengthened and more shipping lines will be encouraged to call at the ports of Lagos.

Currently, port cargo is moved or evacuated mainly by trucking and very small and insignificant size is moved by rail, so in the meantime, barge operations can help improve evacuation technique in ports.

Even from the observation of the context, a large part of the traffic entering the ports is to deliver empty containers, an alternative to these drop-offs of empty containers can be done via barges to the ports without the pressure on the roads and the long queues of articulated trucks at the entrances to the port. Remember that most of the time, a truck can only transport one container, regardless of the size of the container, however, a barge can transport at least twelve (12) 40ft containers at a time. Therefore, container barge transport can be a key aid to the current congestion in ports and facilitate the movement of cargoes out of ports. A good illustration of the efficiency of barge operations can be seen in the organization of the movement of 500 containers out of the ports of Lagos in one day. The current situation will require 500 articulated trucks, however, only 42 flat container barges will be needed to move the 500 containers to the hinterland, by this technique, 500 trucks will be off the road for this single day of barge considered. This will adequately decongest the port and roads if the impact of barge service is seen over a week or a year.

Significantly, to facilitate the movement of goods and further promote the ease of doing business in ports, barge operations will not only help but create jobs and also help activate more new businesses in this ecosystem. Port terminal operators (companies that operate terminals) may need to align their operations with those of barge operations and ensure that loading points for barges are created in their various terminals to develop and support this. activity area. When a more favorable environment exists, it widens the opportunities and this can be achieved in ports with the operation of barges. In fact, it will stimulate job creation, promote more business creation and value-added services in the maritime sector. In reality, this will improve service delivery and the competitiveness of companies in ports, truckers and transport companies will ultimately be challenged to innovate, reduce costs and improve service delivery times.

There is a need to reduce the residence time of goods in ports from 21 days to the regional average of seven (7) days and also to achieve effective trade facilitation and ease of doing business in ports. In the meantime, one of the ways to do this will be to use barge services. Thus, to support this cause, key players in the maritime sector, regulators, government agencies: National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA; Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC; Nigeria Port Authority, NPA; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Security Agency, NIMASA; The Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Police and Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA are to work on barge operating regulations, licensing and registration, market entry and exit procedures, setting minimum standards for service and standardization, safety, security, insurance, tariffs, pricing and others to ensure the stability of barge operations in the country. Good luck and God bless Nigeria!

Dr. Olubiyi, is an expert in entrepreneurship and business management. Twitter manages @drtimiolubiyi and by e-mail: [email protected], for all questions, reactions and comments.

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