BARGE operators, under the Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN), have lamented that excessive charges by terminal operators at the ports are killing barge operations in Nigeria.
Speaking exclusively with IsL source in Lagos, President of BOAN, Mr Bunmi Olumekun, explained that while some terminal operators charge arbitrarily for import cargoes, others charge excessively on export cargoes.
According to the BOAN president, “The manner of charges at our ports is worrisome. The Federal Government wants to promote barging in order to reduce the pressure road haulage brings to our roads, but some people are not seeing things in that direction.
“These sets of people want to frustrate the barge operators out of business. The charges that are slammed on import units of cargo are not uniform at our ports. If you go to terminal A, what you will be charged will be different from what you will be charged at terminal B. This does not give room for predictability in business.
“Because of uncertainty in what a barge operator will get as charges at different terminals, the prices for barge operations are not uniform. There is no fixed price for movement of cargoes along the nation’s waters because we pay different rates at different port terminals for movement of a similar number of containers by barges.
“The most surprisigng thing is when we load export cargoes You know that the Federal Government is keen on promoting non-oil exports and barging is an area the government is looking at in achieving this. But the terminal operators don’t seem to see things this way. The charges at different port terminals for export containers vary arbitrarily.
“This is not supposed to be so since there is a Federal Government effort to promote exports. Terminal operators will be asking for different charges for export containers, and in most cases, these charges are excessive.
“To improve barging in Nigeria, there is a need for uniformity of charges across all the port terminals. Since we carry the same sets of goods from these port terminals, we should be able to base our own charges on what to expect at these port terminals. The absence of a uniform rate at the various port terminals doesn’t help us to have a fixed pricing regime on lifting of containers, and these often lead to cargo owners opting for road haulage instead of movement of their cargoes by barges.
“Many cargo owners are boy CD cotting the lifting of their cargoes by barges because they claim that the charges are high, but a lack of uniformity of charges at the various port terminals is the major reason behind unstable rates by barge operators,” IsL source, Tribune reports