Water transport is by use of water bodies like lakes, rivers, seas, oceans, canals using transport vessels like boats, ships, ferries, canoes. Water transport is cheap for transporting bulky goods for long distances like between continents like transportation exports, minerals, agricultural products, timber, machinery, tourists, oil and its products.
Problems facing water transport in LDCs
The problems are physical and human and include the following;
- Poor science and technology to develop ports making transport vessels and improving waterways.
- Limited capital to develop ports to purchase transport vessels because of low income.
- Shallow and narrow water bodies to accommodate big ships carrying exports, imports like the oil tankers.
- Presence of rapids and waterfalls causing accidents, e.g. on R. Nile, Niger, Congo.
- Floating vegetation like water hyacinth, papyrus disrupting navigation like R. Congo, Nile, L. Kyoga.
- Presence of physical obstacles like potholes, gorges, rock outcrop, the river meanders e.g. on R. Congo, Niger.
- Limited government support in form of loans and poor policies like increased taxation on fuel, making water transport expensive.
- The occurrence of accidents caused by sound waves, waterfalls, rapids, poor weather, overloading, scaring passengers and investors.
- Political instabilities and insecurity scaring investors and workers, the coast of Somalia with sea pirates.
- Presence of wild animals like snakes, hippos, crocodiles causing accommodation and scaring passengers.
- Competition with other means of transport like using air, roads and railway lines because water transport is slow and economical.
- Climatic changes causing fluctuation in water levels like seasonal rivers in dry areas.
- Presence of sand bars, lagoons, deltas, floating islands affecting development of ports and navigation like R. Nile in Egypt.
- Poorly developed ports with poor handling facilities affecting loading, offloading, and causing inconveniences and delays.
- Poor international relations affecting joint investments like E. African community, COMESA, PTA.
- Low population densities in areas with water bodies affecting development and marketing like in the Congo basin, Amazon basin.
- Limited resources leading to limited economic activities like in the Sahel, Kalahari region, and the Middle East countries.
- High costs of maintenance and rehabilitation like constant dredging like removing silts, sediments, deposits like on R. Nile.
- Presence of river meanders and high speed in the youthful stage causing accidents and affecting navigation.
- Presence of hostile tribes scaring investors and passengers like pygmies in DRC