BOAN President, Edeme Kelikume addressing the gathering.
Story by Dili Utomi.
The Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN) in conjunction with the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria organised a conference tagged Barge Operations as a Panacea for Port Decongestion: The Benefit for the Nation under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The conference which was chaired by the former managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Chief Adebayo Sarunmi had a representative of the Lagos State governor and also a representative of the minister of transport with a lot of other high profile dignitaries in attendance.
The president, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, Bar. Jean Chiazor-Anisere and other participants at the occasion.
In his opening speech, the president of BOAN, Mr. Edeme Kelikume noted that the Association was a child of necessity that came about as a direct result of the traffic situation in and around the Lagos Ports, he said that barge operators help to lift over 1000,000,000 tonnes of cargo annually from the Ports to various parts along the waterways especially in lagos and that this helps in reducing the already bad traffic situation in and around Apapa in particular and Lagos in general.
The Chairman of the occasion Chief Adebayo Sarunmi in his speech advised that the operation of the barge operators be streamlined in order to be able to have the financial muscles required to do business. He said that there is a need for barging services whether for the coastal water services or for the inland waterways. He also advised the group to approach the Nigerian Ports Authority on the issue of areas where cargoes can be dropped for easier operation and encouraged them to continue to provide the alternative to rail and road transportation.
The awardees at the occasion.
Maryanne Olapade of the Tin Can Island Container Terminal in her presentation said that the barge operators are impacting positively on the economy and said that their businesses are really promoting the Maritime industry. Otunba Folarin in his speech went back memory lane to detail the kind of chaotic situation that used to characterise the use of our Ports as he buttressed the need for the encouragement of barging.
Francis Anatogu of the committee on AfCFT in his message via zoom noted that there are many goods and services that Nigeria can trade in and so these present very good opportunities for the barge operators to key into and grow their personal and the national economies. He added that they can also provide end to end services within and outside the country.
The minister for transportation was represented by the permanent secretary at the ministry, Dr. Magdalene Ajani and presenting his keynote address, she said that the organisers of the programme is greatly appreciated because of the unique opportunities it presents in bringing out the inherent opportunities that are found within AfCFTA . She said that Nigeria cannot afford to delay in reforming the Maritime sector in order to fully benefit from AfCFTA. She added that the government is committed to making sure that Nigerian investors take advantage of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund. She implored stakeholders to help in playing their legitimate roles in making the nation’s economy stronger. Dr. Ajani also said that the government is committed to making the waterways more navigable so the movement of goods and services into the inland waterways will help boost the economy as she advises that illegal operators should be discouraged in order not to create chaos within the system.
The cutting of the cake at the occasion.
The conference had two panel sessions moderated by Mrs. Jean Chiazor-Anisere, where all the legal, security, administrative and economic issues within the operations in the country’s waterways were examined and they agreed that there is a great need for the proper application of all resources, the provision of the necessary tools, the removal of administrative bottlenecks and the right investment in personel in order that the country may fully enjoy the benefits acruable from the Maritime sector.
A newly developed application platform for easy operation in barging was also showcased by BOAN.
At the end of the conference, various categories of awards were give to many individuals and organisations as a boat shaped cake was cut for the occasion. Mrs. Bola Muse the chairman of the organising committee gave a vote of thanks. In an exclusive interview, she said that the event has been very successful as she thanked everyone who joined hands in making the occasion a success, she also advised all members to work tirelessly to take the association to the next level. The public relations officer of BOAN, Daniel Eze in an interview said the the terminal operators and all members have been cooperative in making the association a success in just one year of coming together, he noted the over 1 million units of cargoes lifted by operators meant that trucks were removed from the road 1 million times. Finally, the president also speaking in an exclusive interview said that he is glad that the government agencies were very cooperative in making the event the success that it became as he says that they hope for brighter future in the business, he advised all stakeholders to follow the laid down procedures in carrying out their businesses.
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