By Godfrey Bivbere
There is a growing concern over the increase in attacks on barges anchored at the ports in Lagos, Vanguard Maritime Report can authoritatively report.
Investigations by Vanguard Maritime Report revealed that the increase in attacks may not be unconnected to the success recorded by the attackers who come in speed boats and heavily armed.
A source close to one of the container terminals said that the attackers come mostly at night targeting containers.
The source also disclosed that during such attacks, the barge crew simply allow the attackers who end up carting away whatever quantity of the cargo they desire.
The source further disclosed that the attacks usually occur between 1 am and 3 am when security is at its lowest.
The source said that they have officially written to the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and the Nigeria Navy, NN, and that they have been assured that something concrete would soon be done to provide the needed security for the waterfront.
According to the source, “The sea robbers are attacking containers on the barge. When they are bringing export cargo to the terminal or they are taking import cargo from the terminal.
“The sea robbers broach the containers before coming down here or while they are at our shore here.
“They attack mostly between 1–3 am at night; we have written letters to NIMASA, the Nigerian Navy, and the NPA management to please do something about the security of the waters because the attacks is on the increase actually.
“It is not only our terminal, even to other terminals as well. They said they are coming up with measures to confront this menace on our waters, so we experience this from the waterside,” the source noted.
Speaking with Vanguard Maritime Report on the issue, a member of Barge Operators Association of Nigeria, BOAN, and Managing Director of Nurwags Integrated Services Limited, Nura Wagani, confirmed that they attack barges conveying goods to and from the ports.
Wagani said though it has not happened to any of his barges, some members of BOAN have complained of their barges being attacked.
He said these attacks normally occur around areas where there is absence of security.In his words, “Sometimes it happens when barges are plying in waters; it is happening in many locations.
“It happened at Ikorodu terminal, it has happened at Kirikiri terminal, in some places where there is no security; hoodlums attack export goods, it is theft.
“The last time it would have happened to my barge, but I thank God I had some people onboard.
“As they came my people raised alarm and the hoodlums escaped.“It is not like they come with arms, if you say attack it means that they came with arms and move away goods. These burgers, even inside the port they do burgle containers.
“We have complained, we have even taken the matter to the Police, but I cannot say what the outcome is because I am not with them now.
“It is not all barge operators that are members of BOAN, if it happens to members; they do complain. There are individual operators that are not our members,” he noted.