The Barge Operators Association of Nigeria has said that for Nigeria to tap $3bn in the sector, there is a need for the Federal Government to commit 20 per cent of its railway budget to the development of inland water transportation, particularly barge operations.
The President of BOAN, Bunmi Olumekun, who said this while addressing journalists recently, said Asians had started acquiring major waterfronts, especially around Badagry area of Lagos.
He said that barging was capital-intensive and there was a need for the government to come to the aid of operators.
“Barge operation is a $3bn investment added to the Gross Domestic Product. We have not tapped what we are supposed to get from the industry. Barging requires a lot of capital; we cannot do it alone. Government needs to come to our aid. We will appreciate it if the government can dedicate 20 per cent of the railway funding to water transportation.”
Olumekun urged the Federal Government and the National Assembly to legislate and domesticate barge operations for Nigerians.
“We need a legislation to regulate barge operations to make it a local content strictly for Nigerians. All our barges are locally made in Lagos, Warri and Port Harcourt, and a lot of companies are coming into barge construction.The industry must be protected to save over five thousand jobs in it. The National Assembly must also legislate that certain percentage of cargo should be moved by water.”