Irregular Pricing Regime Mars Nigeria’s Cargo Evacuation By Barges —Investigation
FINDINGS have revealed that the movement of cargoes in and out of the ports through the use of barges is being marred by irregular and an unregulated pricing regime.
According to investigations carried out by the Nigerian Tribune, while the prices of cargo evacuation by barges ranges from N200,000 to N400,000 depending on cost of operation, the industry lacks a fixed amount for movement of containers by barges, as external factors like amount paid to terminal operators, rent paid on barges, trucks and cranes disrupt the logistic chain pricing regime.
When Nigerian Tribune visited the ports to make enquiries on the cost of carrying four 20ft containers and a 40ft container, our correspondent was told by a staff of one of the barge operators that prices vary depending on the terminal where containers are located and the type of barge being used by the operator.
In the words of the staff who begged not to be quoted as he is not authorized to speak, “For now, so many things determine the prices of movement of cargoes by barges at the ports. At inception, when the roads became a no-go-area due to Apapa gridlock menace, many people rushed into the barge business with all sorts of barges. This was the period when we had containers falling into the lagoon just like they fall off the backs of trucks on our roads. At this point, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had to wade in and operators were asked to register with N100,000 and a bank bond. With this in place, operators got better and procured more standard barges depending on their financial capability.
“A major factor that determines prices in barge operation is the terminal operator charges and type of barges. Terminal operators don’t charge the same rates when it comes to engaging barge operators, and this is one issue we expect the Nigerians Shippers Council (NSC) to help us look into. The fact that the terminals are managed by different organizations has made it very difficult to harmonise prices. While some terminal operators charge N30,000 from barge operators per empty container or truck laden container, some charge N60,000. Also, some barges are on lease and the owners are paying the owners while in some cases, it is the owner of the barges that are using them. At the end of the day, a barge operator might charge N150,000 for the same type of services that another barge operator will collect N250,000 for because of the difference in operating cost.”
When contacted, the President of Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN), Mr. Kelikume Edeme also confirmed that currently, barge operation pricing regime is not fixed.
“The charges for moving import or export cargoes vary depending on the terminal operators, barge operator and the kind of service being rendered. Having said this, we need to note that there are huge costs of operation for barge operators. Barge operators pay the terminals. Operators have to engage barges and fuel them, and they have to pay for cranes and trucks and so many more. In barge operation, our rates are market driven, so no operator is exploiting any cargo owner at the ports,” the BOAN President told the Nigerian Tribune exclusively.
Source: Nigerian Tribune 10 September 2020