Capsized  Barge: Group pins accident to incompetence, dereliction of duty by regulating authority

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– wants NIMASA compelled to make investigation report public

By Jerry Aguigbo

The advent of barge operations to ferry containers from port terminals to off dock terminals drew a lot of accolades from stakeholders who saw it as a panacea to decongesting the ports and also offering an escape route to the chaotic gridlock which has become an albatross yoke to port users.

However, the recent accident where a barge carrying six 40ft containers said to be laden with electronics, capsized precisely on March 6, 2021, along KLT/MILE 2 – Maza Maza water channels, with goods valued at over 500, 000 000.00( Five Hundred Million Naira) estimated but could rise to around 1.2billion, after investigations according to sources.

Thus, a group of critical maritime stakeholders have accused the various government agencies entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring safety of lives and safe guarding properties of dereliction of their assigned duties, abdication of responsibilities and crass incompetence.

According to a statement released by the group, ” agreeably, it could be said that in recent times, without the intervention of barge operations amid the reported ailing port congestion, chaotic port access roads, the corrupt practices therein, the port situation would have been compounded.

Notwithstanding the prevalent situation, it is not a leeway or a suggestion that barge operations should thrive on the premise of carefree and negligence, jettisoned professionalism, operational abuses, impunities, cordoned highhandedness or frequently compromised regulatory obligations,” the statement read.

The also pointedly fingered some of the noticed lapses to the overlapping functions of the 3 government agencies saddled with various responsibilities, stating a lack of coordination between NIMASA, NPA and NIWA.
They unequivocally stated that these 3 government agencies have instead of discharging their responsibilities, engaged in superiority context to outshine one another.

The group demands among other things, that the report of the full investigation of the barge mishap be made public by NIMASA.

The full compensation for the cargo owners, as the operational arrangement was skewed against them, none supervision and monitoring by the agencies of government did them in.
They also demand that the Head of these three agencies vested with regulatory responsibilities, namely, NPA, NIWA and NIMASA should resign forthwith.

That the Transport Ministry should step up its supervisory role in port operations.

And that NIMASA should expose all those complicit in the barge accident.

Those involved in this coalition are: Shippers Association of Nigeria, Ndigboamaka Progressive (Traders ) Association,
Association of Registered Freight and Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN),
African Professional Freight and Logistics of Nigeria APFLON),
Congregation of Registered Freight Forwarding Practioners of Nigeria (CREFFPON), Justice and People- Care Foundation (JPF) and Sea Empowerment and Research Centre.

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