Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has disclosed that the Lagos State Government will work closely with the Federal Government to ensure uniformity in the operational licence being issued to barge owners, and approval given to them by FG to operate on Lagos Waters.
This statement was made by him during a fact-finding visit to Apapa, on Monday. An exercise targeted to unravel the mysteries behind the causes of incessant gridlock on roads leading to the seaports.
According to him, he revealed that part of the issues that will be resolved with the Federal Government over the devastating state of the Apapa congestion, which has impacted negatively on businesses and lives in the environ, was the uniformity in the operational licence being issued to barge owners.
This he said will help to combat the operations of owners of illegally operated container terminals set up in the state with unapproved docks.
What they are saying
The Governor said,
- “We have arrested people we felt were operating illegal barge terminals before, but we were surprised some of these people had licences issued by the Federal Government. This is part of the issues we want to resolve.”
While speaking further on why FG needs to carry Lagos State Government along in this regard, he emphasized that,
- “We are working collaboratively with the Federal Government on this. If someone gets approval for barge operation, let Lagos Government be aware, so that roads are probably planned to those terminals.”
Why this matters
According to the statement of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the collaborative efforts between the Lagos State government and FG will help to stop the creation of illegal terminals for barge operators and make adequate plan for licensees operating in traffic-prone areas.
This move will help to block the operations and the existence of container terminals and docks, this regulation will forestall the abuse of the physical environment and ensure environmental sustainability.
It is important to note that these terminals, some of which also operate unapproved docks, are located indiscriminately in apparent contravention of the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning Law 2019, which stipulates that prospective developers must obtain Planning Information and Planning Permit as necessary conditions for locating such facilities.
What you should know
- A barge is a long flat-bottomed boat for carrying freight on canals and rivers, either under its own power or towed by another.
- The NPA in a press release issued on February 23rd 2018, revealed plans of the port authority to consider the use of barges and cargoes to encourage the movement and evacuation of cargoes from the nation’s Seaports to the hinterland across the country. According to the Managing Director, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, this would help to reduce the pressure on the Port Access Road and to serve as a solution to the perennial gridlock being experienced within the Ports Axis.
- The activities of some barge operators have led to concerns by the State Government in recent times, which prompted the government to issue a note of warning to all illegally operated container terminals in the State, after it disclosed that it has sealed three illegal locations along Festac Link-Bridge, Amuwo-Odofin, including the one used for batching sand underneath the bridge, amongst others, on September 19, 2020.
- However, this warning and sanctions on the illegal operators were not issued to dampen the operation of legal barge operators, given how crucial they have become in recent times to decongest the port.
- A recent tweet by the Special Assistant to President Buhari on Digital and New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi, on the 26th of December 2020, cements the importance of barges in the move towards decongesting the Ports. After seeing a barge coursing through the Lagos waters at the Lagoon, Tolu stressed that the barge moved 6 containers in a single trip, which was an equivalent of 6 trucks (or 3, if 40ft) taken off the roads.