Story By Roland Ekama
Barely three months it pledged to deploy state-of-the-art ferries to boost water transportation, the Lagos State Government has commissioned three boats which it hopes will also improve the tourism and economic potentials in the state.
It is part of the strategy to reduce the pressure on the roads by luring at least two million people into using water transport daily.
Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, govenor of the state, on Sunday commissioned the executive boats, reiterating the state's commitment to fully exploit the water transportation potentials for the overall benefit of the people.
Ambode pointed out that the state government was committed to the implementation of the integrated transport management system designed to scale up water, rail and land transportation.
He said the boats and four Jet Skis recently acquired by the state government to ensure safety and fight crime on the waterways were prelude to major plans to fully activate the potentials of water transportation. He added that in the coming months, the state government would take delivery of additional seven commercial ferries, among other plans for the sector.
Ambode disclosed that the grand plan is to divert at least two million passengers to use the waterways daily as part of efforts to reduce traffic on the road.
“This is a significant day for Lagos State as we commission three boats. We discovered that sometimes, we do not have the ability for our officials to go on the waterways to address issues relating to people and citizens that live alongside the waterways.
“As you aware, 25 per cent of Lagos is water and it is important that we put in the right initiatives that can actually make activities on our waterways to thrive and to integrate people living along the waterways into the transport mix," Ambode said at the commissioning ceremony.
Governor Ambode efforts are being put into improving safety and convenience in water sector transport through specific initiatives such as construction of terminals, channelization, construction of walkways, among others.
“As people are well aware, we are committed to the integrated transport management system that we have promised Lagosians."
With over six million people using Lagos roads every day, he said plans are afoot to create connectivity between water terminals and the roads, especially in Mile 2, Badore, Ajah, Badagry, Ikorodu.
"As much as we are doing on the roads, we have decided that we would face the waterways.
"We have just ordered the procurement of seven ferries; we have also invited people from the private sector to take over terminals and be able to procure their own boats and ferries.
“We are so particular about safety; we are so particular about the future of everyone and that is why we decided also that we would do a lot on channelization and dredging of waterways to make them navigable.
"People will begin to see all these at the end of the first quarter of 2018 and we believe strongly also that both the government-owned boats and the ones from the private sector will start to berth the waterways of Lagos and we will use that to complement what it is that we have on our roads and also use it to complement the future of what we are trying to plan for the rail system.”
The governor also called on private sector stakeholders to invest in water transportation and partner with the administration, pointing out that government will provide the requisite infrastructure and create the right atmosphere for investments to thrive.
The governor also inspected ongoing projects on the waterways, including the ones at Orange Island and Lekki Foreshore areas of the state.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode