Barge operators to pay NPA levies in foreign currencies
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has imposed fresh levies and dues on barge operators as part of measures to boost its revenue profile.
This is as the operators have continued to decry low patronage in business through cargo movement via the waterways.
The levies and dues will commence next month and the operators are to pay in United States dollar.
According to a document seen by The Guardian, the NPA stated that the import and export of containers, vehicles, dry, wet, bulk and general cargoes laden on barges operating within the pilotage, will attract additional levies and dues.
A breakdown of the rates on consignments includes: a 40ft container will attract $28 per unit for empty, while dry cargo will attract $2.57 per ton.
Vehicles will attract between $45, $46 and $61, depending on the sizes, while liquid and dry bulk will attract $1.46 per ton and general cargo has $2 per ton.
It was also gathered that barge operators previously pay dues and levies to the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Federal Inland Revenue (FIRS) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
But with the NPA’s new policy on barge operators, there are indications that some of the operators could be forced out of business.
According to the document, the port authority described the rates as cargo and harbour dues, thus applicable for coastal movement.
NPA insisted that estate rent charges will be collected at terminals owned by it, adding that users of the facilities will be given a temporary operating license (TOL) that will entail payment of annual rent.
NPA also insisted that it will be entitled to royalty on cargo delivery operations within the terminals.
The document reads: “In line with the Nigerian Ports Authority dues and rents regulations of 2021, these charges and rates will be paid using the applicable official exchange rates at the period of operations.”
MEANWHILE, barge operators in Lagos State have expressed worries over low patronage following the drop in cargo importation into the country and reduction of cost rates by truck owners.
The bargers lamented that the business of moving cargoes from the seaports to jetties and other facilities via the waterways has dropped significantly to an all-time low, even as frustration haS started setting in for the investors.
Investigations carried out also confirmed that the cost of moving cargoes through barges within the Lagos waterways similarly dropped by 65 per cent as against 100 per cent due to the low import.
Apart from the sharp drop in the business of barging activities, shippers in the supply logistics chain have resumed trucking patronage due to affordable charges against what was obtained on the waterways carriage of cargoes.
While truck owners collect N150,000 for cargoes from Tin Can Island Port to Mile 2 or Amuwo Odofin axis, bargers collect N250,000 to the same destination, a situation that has affected the activities of waterways transportation.
Barge operators lamented that the first quarter of 2022 had been unfavourable for them due to low charges from truck owners and to further cut the cost of doing business in a bid to maximize profit.
A member of Barge Operators of Nigeria (BOAN), Jika Chibado, lamented that operators in the barging sub-sector of the maritime industry, have never had it so tough as this year’s, adding that the sudden crash in cost left some of the operators confused.
Chubado said some operators are gradually quitting the business due to the lull in patronage by shippers and freight forwarders, adding that most shippers patronise road transportation even at short distances.
“Barge operations have gone down and we cannot make a profit as we used to again,” he decried.
On his part, a barge operator, Kelvin Okechukwu, who also owns a truck, explained that the law of demand and supply has played a dominant role in the sharp drop in barge patronage, adding that waterways transportation of consignments is facing “all-time low activities”.
Okechukwu said the truck is cheaper at the moment, which is why barge operators are not getting much business.
He said the high charges on consignments for waterways transportation contributed to declining in business.
A truck owner and member of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Inuwa Abdullahi, attributed the lull in barge operations to low Importation since 2021.
According to him, there is a total drop in importation globally and Nigeria is not an exception.