7 advantages of water transport

Seven (7) advantages of water transport




Water transport is the cheapest and the oldest mode of transport. It operates on a natural track and hence does not require huge capital investment in the construction and maintenance of its track except in case of canals. The cost of operation of water transport is also very less. It has the largest carrying capacity and is most suitable for carrying bulky goods over long distances. It has played a very significant role in bringing different parts of the world closer and is indispensable to foreign trade.

In summary water transport or waterway have a number of advantages such as being able to carry bulky cargo, does not need construction and maintenance of infrastructures such as in case of roads, they have a low risk of accidents and it has opened up businesses between continents and countries which can not be reached by land transport such as Madagascar island.

Types of water transport




water transport is divided into types:

Inland waterways

Inland waterways comprise waterways within the continents or countries such as lakes, canals, and rivers.

Inland waterways are sometimes known as internal water transport. Inland waterways can be artificial or natural depending on whether they are man-made or not. For example, rivers like the Congo River in Central Africa can be referred to as natural waterways since they are not made or modified by humans. On the other hand canals such as the Suez Canal and st Lawrence canal in North America are referred to as artificial waterways because they have been constructed by humans.

Ocean waterways

Ocean waterways or open water transport refers to transportation that is carried out in the open ocean surrounding countries or continents. Countries that are not bordering the ocean are called landlocked countries, and they can be accessed either by inland waterways or by road transport, rail transport, or air transport.

The following are advantages of water transport:

  • Larger Capacity: It can carry much larger quantities of heavy and bulky goods such as coal, and, timber, etc. for example Tanzania is able to import tonnes of oil and other products from the middle east, India, and china through water transport. this would not be possible if they were done through another mode of transport such as roads, railway, and air transport




  • Flexible Service: It provides a much more flexible service than railways and can be adjusted to individual requirements.  
  • Safety: The risks of accidents and breakdowns, in this form of transport, are minimum as compared to any other form of transport.   
  • Low Cost: Rivers are a natural highway that does not require any cost of construction and maintenance. Even the cost of construction and maintenance of canals is much less, or they are used, not only for transport purposes but also for irrigation, etc. Moreover, the cost of the operation of inland water transport is very low. Thus, it is the cheapest mode of transport for carrying goods from one place to another.
  • Less Maintenance Cost: Maintenance cost in rail and road transport is quite high but the maintenance cost of water transport is quite less.
  • Useful During Natural Calamities: During natural calamities like flood and rains, when rail and road transport is disrupted, relief operations can be operated through water transport.
  • boost trade between countries. water transport has enabled countries far apart to conduct trade. for example, countries like Tanzania and Kenya have been able to transport their agricultural products to China and India while countries like China and India are able to export their manufactured electronics and motor vehicles to countries in Africa and America many kilometers away.
  • water transport has been a source of foreign exchange for countries which owns port located in strategic areas such as Rotterdam port, Singapore port and Mombasa port in east Africa. the ports are used to imports goods to land located countries and these countries pay taxes and port charges to countries owning the port. for example countries such as Uganda. Rwanda and Burundi are paying port charges to the Kenyan government by importing their goods through the Mombasa port.

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