The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has established a regulatory framework for the operation of barges across the nation’s seaports.
From 1 September 2021, all operators must comply with the new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
Further to this development, the authority said it is poised to review the modalities for the registration of barge operating licence with an emphasis on operators meeting the minimum safety standards (MSS) of their vessels. 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 oceangoing vessels.
In this regard, the NPA said that it has 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.
NPA acting managing director Mohammed Bello Koko told a meeting of the Barge Operators of Nigeria: “There will be a harmonised interactive session (berthing meetings) between the barge operators and the relevant designated port managers for specific areas where information sharing will be prioritised accordingly.”
These meetings are envisaged to create a forum where illegal barge and jetty operators would be identified.