Waterways transport cost increases by 16.28% in one year
The cost of waterways transportation increased by 16.28 per cent in one year, according to the Transport Fare Watch for January 2023 released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
According to the report, the average fare paid for passenger water transport in January 2023 increased to N1, 032.84, showing an increase of 16.28 per cent on a year-on-year (YoY) basis, from N888.24 in January 2022 and 0.40 per cent on a month-on-month (MoM) from N 1,028.73 in December 2022.
Recall that government and stakeholders had advocated for the development of the nation’s inland water transport system for a cheaper, safer, more efficient and seamless mode of international standard that provides alternative and complimentary services to other modes of transportation in the country.
Further breakdown of the report showed that the South-South zone had the highest charges paid on water transport with N2,425.83, followed by the South-West with N950.08, while North-East had the least fare with N659.9.
In the report on the 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory, the states with the highest fare by waterway passenger transport was Delta at N3,500 per trip, Rivers comes second at N3,200 per trip, while Bayelsa comes third at N2,900 per trip and Lagos an average price of N1,100 per trip.
According to NBS, the states with the lowest fare for waterway passenger transport are Borno at N369, Kebbi at N420 and Gombe at N480.
Reacting to the NBS report, stakeholders in the waterways transport sector blamed the high cost of boat spare parts, scarcity of fuel, cash crisis and other factors for the increase in the cost of water transportation.
The National Public Relations Officer of Waterfront Boat Owners and Transporters Association (WABOTAN), Raymond Gold, said it has been difficult getting fuel, especially as the boats are on the waters, while operators have to use Jerry cans to look for fuel in which filling stations sell to those with cans at an extra price.
“These are people whose boats are on the water and when they take their jerry cans to the fueling stations to buy fuel, they pay extra because some will tell you outrightly they cannot sell jerry cans and we need fuel to power the outboard engine that powers the boat on the water.
“Also, the cost of spare parts has increased. To buy outboard engines, we are even having challenges because buying the parts is becoming a herculean task because they have become unnecessarily expensive. We are looking at the possibility of talking with the franchise to see if these parts are available.
We are even looking at some of the popular brands in the country to see how they can open up the market so that our members can access these parts easily. If the parts are readily available and not being hoarded, the price will be more affordable so these are some of the reasons for the increase,” he said.
The President Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON), Dr. Gani Tarzan Balogun, explained that the increase in waterways transportation fares is not peculiar to the sector alone, but has also affected other modes of transportation in the country.
“Water transportation is not cheap and you know that there is nothing in this country in the last one year that the price has remained constant,” he said.
General Manager, Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Mr. Damilola Emmanuel, when questioned as to why the cost of water transportation rose in the last one year, said: “The cost of fuel has risen, and of course, the cash crunch, which has affected the whole economy. So, it’s not peculiar to the water transportation sector.”