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As Lagos lifts water transportation

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“The current traffic situation indicates that 95 percent of transportation is done by road in our state of over 22 million people with about 25 percent of the landmass consisting of waterways.” – Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Over the last 725 days, addressing the transportation and traffic challenges of Lagos State has been a major preoccupation of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu Administration. In realization of the strategic role of transportation as a key driver of economic development, the Sanwo-Olu led government made Traffic Management and Transportation a foremost part of its T.H.E.M.E.S (acronyms for Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21ST Economy, Entertainment and Tourism and Governance and Security) Developmental Agenda.

Since his inauguration on May 29th, 2019, Governor Sanwo-Olu has made the attainment of enhanced transportation system a major focus of his administration. Consequently, roads are being expanded and rehabilitated across the State.

This led to intense road construction projects across the State. Some of the critical highways and roads being constructed include the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Pen Cinema Bridge and adjoining roads, Ojota stretch of the Ikorodu Road, Motorways-Kudirat Abiola Way, Agric/Ishawo Road and Ijede Road in Ikorodu, and Lekki-Epe Expressway from Abraham Adesanya to Eleko Junction.

Others are Cele-Ijesha Link Bridge, 31 network of roads in Ojokoro, Oniru network of roads, in Victoria Island, Ijesha-Lawanson Junction by Otun Oba Bus-Stop and Ishaga road by LUTH, Ondo Street, Ebute-Metta, Agbado road, Ifako-Ijaiye to name a few. Similarly, the government embarked on junction improvement works as well as construction of roads across all wards in the State.

However, the need to exploit alternative means of transportation mode cannot be over-emphasized given the megacity status of the State. One of such other alternatives being exploited by the current administration is water transportation.

In February, 2020, Governor Sanwo-Olu formally kicked off commercial waterways’ transportation with the official launch of eight new modern speed boats. Three of the boats have the capacity to carry 60 passengers, two were built to carry 50 passengers, while two others have capacities for 40 passengers. Also, three others could convey 30 passengers, four will carry 25 passengers while two will carry 25 passengers.

The six routes the boats have been plying include Ikorodu to Falomo; Ikorodu to Ebute Ero and Marina; Ebute Ojo to Ijegun Egba, Apapa and Marina; Bayeku to Oke Ira Nla and Falomo; Mile 2 to Marina, and Badore to Ijede.

With this renewed impetus, the narrative of water transportation in Lagos is already changing for good. On 7th September, 2020, the Sanwo-Olu administration recorded a major milestone in its quest to deliver an effective and integrated intermodal transportation as LAGFERRY celebrated its 100,000th passenger at the Ipakodo Terminal, Ikorodu, since the commissioning of new ferries.

This is coming on the heels of the celebration of the 60,000th passenger on the 30th of June, 2020 immediately after the resumption of services due to the coronavirus pandemic. The milestone is, no doubt, a good indicator that shows that Lagosians are beginning to embrace water transportation.

However, the government is not resting on its oars as LAGFERRY has deployed more boats and increased daily trips in order to provide a safe, fast and reliable alternative mode of transportation. Also, four new navigable ferry routes have been opened up to complement existing routes.

The channelisation, which involves dredging of ferry routes, creating a path of 40-metre width and four-meter minimum depth to accommodate bigger boat movement includes the channelisation of 4km ferry route from Mile 2 to Marina already in use, channelisation of 6.4km ferry route from Ebute (Ikorodu) – Ilaje (Falomo), 10.3km route from Ojo to Badagry and 4.10km Ilaje (Bariga) to white-sand in Oyingbo which are almost completed”.

The new routes are to complement the existing ones, namely, Ipakodo (Ikorodu) to Addax/five cowries in Falomo; Ipakodo (Ikorodu) to CMS/Marina; and Badore (Tarzan) to Ijede; Ebute Ojo to Liverpool to CMS/Marina. Others are Mile 2 – Liverpool- CMS/Marina, Baiyeku (Ikorodu) to Oke-Ira Nla to Badore in Ajah and Ilaje to Bariga to Ebute Ero and CMS.

To further improve safety on the waterways and also free the waterways of wreckage and debris, prevent erosion and degradation of the shorelines, the government has removed four abandoned wrecked ships, debris and unwanted objects found on the waterways.

Similarly, 15 new reinforced concrete jetties, located at various riverine areas of the State, would soon be commissioned for the use of Lagosians before the end of the year. This is expected to raise the capacity of LAGFERRY to move 75,000 to 100,000 passengers daily.

With the current level of investment in water transportation, Lagos, no doubt, stands to experience appreciable upsurge in socio-economic activities. For instance, the expansion of trade to the Lekki Free Trade Zone will be easy to access by water from international waterways to local inland waterways.

Also, inter-costal trade will experience ease such that traders will be able to move their commodities via ships and other water transport modes. Therefore, the menace of tankers and heavy duty trucks on the roads will be drastically reduced.

Presently, LAGFERRY is facilitating cargoes movement and providing innovative solutions to logistic challenges of industries, importers and manufacturers. It currently conveys trucks from its Mile 2 Jetty to Apapa Seaport to load containers. The hassles of doing the same by road are being greatly reduced by the option of moving them on water via LAGFERRY’s badges.

In-spite of the modest successes recorded in promoting water transportation, Sanwo-Olu administration is desirous of embracing additional strategic initiatives that could enhance water transportation in the State. Hence, it has identified about thirty commercial routes on the State’s waterways for dredging and channelization, while more jetties are being constructed across the State.

In view of the government’s impressive initiatives toward improving water transportation, all stakeholders must, thus, join hands together to develop this mode of transportation in order to maximize its potential. However, proper compliance to rules and regulation guiding the use of the waterways must be strictly adhered to by all stakeholders.

With the way things stand, there are now visible proofs of the government’s renewed investment in the sector. More private sector interest in the sector would certainly help to complement the government’s huge investment in the sector.

Odumade is of the Features Unit Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.


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