SALS says recent barge accident gradually drifting into politics, chides traditional rulers


The Shippers’ Association Lagos State (SALS) has expressed shock over the involvement of the traditional rulers in the issues surrounding the recent barge accident in Lagos even as it stated that it did not expect that the issue will attract traditional rulers from Onne in Rivers State as well as induce youth restiveness.

The President of SALS, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Nicol who made this observation in statement in Lagos on Wednesday, was reacting to a story published in one of the online media (not Primetime Reporters) with the caption, “Barge Accident: Apapa, Onne Port Community Youths Defend NPA, NIMASA Heads.”

Nicol observed that the accident which occurred in Lagos was gradually drifting into politics even as he described the development as unfortunate.

“We did not expect that the issues at stake will attract Traditional Rulers from Onne Port and induce youth restiveness. The accident occurred in Lagos. It is gradually drifting into politics and this is unfortunate.

“We expected the maritime government agencies to accept that there is a problem. Over N500,000,000.00 worth of cargo is lost. Some of the barges on our waters were not built to handle containers. Those barges were used for bunkering purposes in those days! So, they do not have facilities to strap containers in case of high tides during local voyages and apply the balancing process during offloading.  These are issues that the regulators should have corrected before licensing.

“It is the presence of cargo that makes the Onne Port thick. Development of Onne towns came as a result of the presence of cargo. Numerous trucks produce a beehive of activities for the citizens. It is not about anyone”, he said.

He went on to posit that certain positions attract grave responsibilities adding that in a sane situation, the regulators should have shown enough concerns over the avoidable loses to those concerned.

“Our fear is that this accident may not be the last. How long are we going to pass through uncertainties?  This is just one of the many accidents we encounter almost every month. Traditional Rulers enjoy more when their citizens have jobs, with buoyant economic gains within their domain of influence. Needless joining issues with people or groups who are not investors or positive contributors in the system. They don’t lose anything except gaining from our collective inputs towards the development of the nation.

“Shippers are choked by the prevailing port system, bad roads across the country and can no longer fold hands and watch a continuous loss of investment and heightened extortion in the system. Nigeria remains a Federal Republic where rights are protected. Then protect our Rights! Compensation has to be paid for the inaction of the agencies involved”, Nicol further stressed.

He continued, “Finally, is to state the obvious, we are resolute on our collective stand. We are unrelenting in our constructive engagements aimed at making leadership at all level of the maritime strata sit up to their responsibilities.”

While pointing out that agitations were instruments to checkmate laxities and failures, Nicol imagined bringing goods into Nigeria without issues only for one to lose such cargo in his own country.

“Failed economic regulatory policies ought to be corrected. Trading platforms have to be protected and properly regulated. Businesses ought to be taken seriously because it is from the collective taxes paid to government that funding of the various institutions is sustained. Where the main objectives of the purpose of setting up institutions are threatened, it becomes a major threat to human existence.

“The six containers that drifted into the Kirikiri Lighter Terminal should not have been lost in the first place if the facilities at the Apapa port were functional. There would have been no need to transfer cargo to any terminal, violating the choice of shippers in the contract entered into by the shipping lines. The slow development of our ports is worrisome and the agencies know that”, he stated.

Photo: SALS President, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Nicol.

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