On Lagos’ renewed impetus for water transportation
“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 one and a half years, addressing the transportation and traffic challenges of Lagos State has been a major pre-occupation of the 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 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, 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, 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.
Also, in response to the request of different grassroots communities concerning road development, the government recently flagged-off 377 projects across all wards in the State. An integral part of the projects is the construction of 257 community roads and drainages. The commencement of the projects underscores the commitment of the Sanwo-Olu administration to ensuring better human and vehicular movements across the State.
Similarly, the government embarked on junction improvement works, which included removal of roundabouts, separation of streams of traffic through Traffic Signal Lights (TSL) and synchronisation of TSLs through intelligent traffic systems which will recognise the densities of traffic streams and give priorities accordingly.
However, the need to exploit alternative means of transportation mode cannot be over-emphasized given the complex nature of the sector in the State. One of such other alternatives being exploited by the current administration with passion is water transportation.
In February 2020, 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.
The launch of the speed boats, being operated by the Lagos Ferry Services (LAGFERRY), effectively marked the commencement of commercial operations in waterways transportation by LAGFERRY.
With this renewed impetus, the narrative of 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 inter-modal transportation as it 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, in similar vein, of the 60,000th passenger, Mrs. Caroline Ateboh 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 appreciate and 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 to lessen the traffic congestion that are arising from the massive road rehabilitation and construction going on across the State.
The Sanwo-Olu administration is fully committed to exploring the capacity of the waterways to strengthen mass transportation in line with its transportation blueprint.
LAGFERRY has introduced additional routes for more residents to enjoy its services. Also, the Agency’s boats are available for charter to host parties, Annual General Meetings (A.G.M) and for tourists.
Much emphasis is particularly being placed on safety of the water ways. This is why lots channelization and dredging are being done in order to make the waterways safe and secure for all stakeholders.
There are also plans to connect water terminals and the roads, especially in places such as Badore, Ajah, Mile 2, Badagry, Ikorodu and other places where there are terminals.
With 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 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.
On a final note, in view of the government’s impressive initiatives toward improving water transportation, all stakeholders are enjoined to complement government’s efforts. No doubt, the development of the State’s waterways represents a vital response to the metropolis unique transport challenge.
Otuyemi is of the Features Unit, Lagos State Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.