Uber, Max and Gokoda are Reviving Water Transportation in Nigeria

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation (190 million) and largest economy. The country has 8,600 km of inland waterways. The longest are the Niger River and its tributary, the Benue River but the most used, especially by larger powered boats and for commerce, are in the Niger Delta and all along the coast from Lagos Lagoon to Cross River.Brief history of Maritime Sector

The history of transportation in Nigeria dates back to the pre – colonial era. Within this period, transportation facilities such as roads, railways, air transport facilities were really non-existent with emphasis then on the bush path. At present, the modes of transport in Nigeria include road, railways, airways, inland waterways, coastal waters, the deep sea, and the pipeline.

The modem era of maritime transport was ushered in by the advent of the steam engine. Wooden ships and sail gave way to iron ships powered by steam. A long era of growth in maritime transport followed as trade needs were served more efficiently, and transport activities could be better predicted. Trading horizons expanded and the world economy grew. Transit time was no longer at the whim of prevailing winds and both passenger and freight traffic increased dramatically.

The advent of the jet engine played havoc with the market for long-haul ocean passenger transport as people switched from long ocean liner voyages to more convenient plan travel. Passenger vessels changed radically between 1950 and 2000. In 2000. only ferries and cruise ships remain in most of the developed world, although some small passenger ships can still be found in inter-island services in remote areas of Indonesia, the Philippines, and the Caribbean, and on the great rivers, such as the Nile and the Amazon.

In spite of the growing volume of freight moving by air. the bulk of international freight moves by water. Cargo transported by ship falls into two broad categories: bulk and unitized cargo. The former usually travels via tramp vessels and includes both liquid (including crude oil and oil products) and dry bulk, with iron ore. grains, and coal having the highest transport volumes. Unitized cargo (predominantly containers) is transported primarily by ships in the liner trades. Unitization is the process of consolidating cargo into a more manageable form for transport, be it a pallet or a container. There are many types of vessels to service specialized needs but these general categories provide a useful starting point to understand maritime transport and port systems.

Liner shipping companies offer scheduled transport services to third party logistics service suppliers and cargo owners whose markets are increasingly global. Rather than contracting for the use of the whole vessel, as is the case in the tramp sector, cargo owners only purchase the space necessary at a particular time, thereby sharing the vessel with many others. Containers cany most of the world’s component parts, semi-finished, and finished goods. The transfer of goods within the car parts industry from one country to another provides an excellent example of goods using the liner sector of the shipping market.

Container traffic is important because the timely delivery of the container’s contents creates jobs and generates income across a large population base. It is very important for the future economic health of many nations that container trade continues to grow. Manufacturers can buy components in many places, consolidate them in one or a number of locations for assembly and then transport them to a third location to be sold. Sometimes component parts move seven or eight times before reaching the retail market.

The tramp market transports both dry and liquid bulk products. In contrast to the liner carrier, the tramp vessel does not operate on a fixed schedule or itinerary but sails to meet the current demand with.

Governmental particitipation

Last year, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) introduces marine transport safety guidelines  for operators of passenger boats and passengers to avoid accidents along the Nigerian waterways.

Operators were also warned against taking passengers beyond the capacity of the boat ; using old and rickety boat (any boat that had been in use for more than five years); taking alcohol or drug before and during boat ride , and speeding on the waterways .

The guidelines directed that passengers must always put on life jacket before boarding a boat ; that all boats and boat operators must be properly registered with NIWA ; boat operators should always check the weather to ensure that it was safe to sail; and that boat operators must share safety knowledge with passengers before sailing .

The arriving of New investment into the sector

Technology base road transportation company Investment has lead the like of Uber to announced that it would be launching UberBOAT in West Africa this week, and markets responded favorably.

As at May this year, also in Lagos, Nigeria, where ride-hail startup Gokada has raised a $5.3 million Series A round to grow its two-wheel transit business and also Gokada has partnered with Lagos Boats to launch GBoat a ferry transport service in one of Nigeria’s lucrative natural resources, Lagos waterways.

Likewise, Nigerian motorcycle transit startup has raised a $7 million funding round led by Novastar Ventures, with participation from Japanese manufacturer Yamaha. The startup will also expand to 10 cities in West Africa (starting in Ghana and Ivory Coast) and add new vehicle classes including watercraft and three-wheeled tuk tuk taxis. All this events will ease transportational difficulties faced by Lagosian every day.

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