Water transport is one of the oldest modes of transport which humans have been using to access different places as they move freight by boat, ship, and ferries canoes over the lakes, canals, and rivers. There are also other forms of water vehicles which include cruise ship, speed boat, windsurfer motorboat among others. Ships are mostly used to carry large quantities of non-perishable goods for long distances.
Types of water transport
There are two main types of maritime transportation and they include; inland water transport and ocean water transport. They both help in the movement of passengers and freight.
The inland maritime transportation is a transport network over the lakes, canals, and navigable rivers. There are many rivers in the world that support water transport such as Rhine and Danube in Europe, River Zaire, and the Nile in Africa and the Lower Niger in Nigeria as well as the St Lawrence River in Canada. Canals are made by humans to enable the transportation of goods and passengers in a place without a large natural water mass.
The ocean transport relies on the natural sea to operate that does not require any form of construction and maintenance. It is one of the notable modes of transport that has made international commerce to be possible. It has connected all parts of the world into one large market countries can buy and transport cargo with ease and at low costs. Many vessels sail through the sea. For example, the passenger liners, cargo liners, tramps and oil tankers, and refrigerated ships.
Advantages of water transport
Water transport is the cheapest means of transport in the carriage of cargo and also has the lowest maintenance cost. Moreover, it is considered to be one of the safest means that guarantee the security of freight. Furthermore, it is very ideal for the movement of large volumes of cargo from one country to another plus it is rarely affected by bad weather as compared to air and road transport. It also stands out as one of the modes has had zero traffic since the sea and the other water masses provide a large surface area where the vessels travel freely. Other countries have built very strong naval forces that use army ships for warfare to guard their territory against their enemies, not to mention other numerous jobs that are created by water transports such as ship captains, shipbuilding engineers, maritime lawyer, ship bankers, radio officers, cargo engineers, underwater photographers among other professions. Therefore, the above benefits of water transport make it an alternative mode of transport that every country with a navigational water mass has adopted in enhancing sustainable transport network systems.
Disadvantages of water transport
Like any other mode of transport, water transport has got its demerits. To begin with, water transport is slow. Transporting cargo from Europe to Kenya can take several months hence making it suitable for transportation of perishable products. The other shortcoming of maritime transportation is that it is not flexible and does not provide door to know services since it only operates under a limited area of water bodies. Also, some rivers which are used for inland transportation are seasonal hence it may inconvenience an individual who had planned to use it to carry goods to the market. Another factor that makes water transport unreliable is the fact that it is difficult to track the state and progress of goods.
Maritime transportation is an essential part of every country that promotes international trade with partners. It has bridged the gap between producers and consumers thus enabling economies of different countries to grow. While building some inland waterways such as canals is expensive, the maintenance cost in water transport is less as compared to other means of transport.