By Benjamin Omoike
Lagos State Government has formally kicked off commercial waterways transportation, with the official launch of eight newly acquired speed boats by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday.
Sanwo-Olu unveiled the speed boats, which will be operated by the Lagos Ferry Services (LAGFERRY), at a ceremony held at Badore Ferry Terminal in Eti-Osa Local Government Area.
The event marked the commencement of commercial operations in waterways transportation by LAGFERRY. The Governor also launched a mobile application designed to facilitate easy access to the water transportation services.
Sanwo-Olu said the intervention represented a “great leap” in his administration’s strategy to deliver an effective and integrated inter-modal transportation system in addressing the perennial issue of traffic congestion on the roads.
He said: “The narrative of transportation in Lagos is about to change for good, as we are set to take full advantage of the water bodies to decongest our roads and substantially reduce travel time for commuters.
“Today, we are launching eight units of additional ferries to complement the existing six ferries in the fleet of Lagos Ferry Service. It is glaring that for Lagos to be a functional smart city that we desire, there must be diversification of the mode of transportation. There must be interconnectivity of the rail, road and water transportation systems.”
The design and fabrication of the new boats were totally worked out by two local boats manufacturers in line with Sanwo-Olu’s promise to exploring local capacity in providing solutions to various challenges.
The Governor observed that the commencement of commercial operations on waterways would promote a healthy living and restore aesthetics of environment through reduction of carbon emission.
He charged private investors to move in and harness opportunities in the value chain, noting that the Government had solved the teething problems associated with the mode of transportation and infrastructure.
“We are fully committed to increase investment in the development of more routes on the waterways. To consolidate on infrastructure we have provided on the waterways, we will embark on the construction of more jetties and provision of more modern ferry boats to create opportunities for more private sector participation in water transportation,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The Governor said the State would drive full compliance on measures put in place to ensure the safety of commuters using the waterways, adding that the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) was being strengthened to effectively discharge its monitoring and regulatory duties in line with best practice.
He said: “We are going to spread the efficiency of the LAGFERRY services to meet the demand of the people at various times of the day. Before the end of the year, we will double the capacity in the LAGFERRY’s fleet from 14 to 30 boats. This is to enable the agency discharge its mandate to ease the movement of Lagosians from various parts of the city to another through the waterways.”
Sanwo-Olu promised that modern jetties would also be built in Badagry, Lekki, and Ajegunle, pledging that the one being built in Ijegun would be completed.
Chief Executive Officer of LAGFERRY, Hon. Abdulbaq Balogun said the launching charted a new course for water transportation in the State.
The agency, Balogun said, remained fully committed to exploring the capacity of waterways to strengthen mass transportation in line with transportation blueprint of the Sanwo-Olu administration.
With over 30 jetties across the State, the LAGFERRY boss said Lagos had provided infrastructure to boost water transportation, adding that the commencement of commercial operations by the agency would reduce persistent gridlock on the highways.
He said: “With our global water transportation licence, LAGFERRY will operate on all the waterways routes in Lagos, starting gradually according to the available capacity. We will be deploying all our 14 available ferries to cover the three senatorial zones immediately.
“Our well developed and properly coordinated water transportation is also helping in haulage across the State, moving trucks, containers and goods, thereby relieving the roads of heavy duty trucks which contribute in no small measure to failure of roads.”
Before the fourth quarter of the year, Balogun said LAGFERRY would extend its services to all 40 water routes licenced for Lagos.
Also, Commissioner for Transport, Dr. Frederic Oladehinde, described the event as another giant stride in Transport Sector Reform embarked on by the Sanwo-Olu administration, saying the standard of the boats would meet the transportation need of residents in an emerging Smart City.
Oladehinde announced the six routes of LAGFERRY’s operations, which 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.
Three of the boats deployed for operations by LAGFERRY have the capacity to carry 60 passengers, two were built to carry 50 passengers, while another two had capacities of 40 passengers. Also, three of the boats will carry 30 passengers, four will carry 25 passengers and two will carry 25 passengers.
All the boats are built with comfortable seats, in-built Wi-Fi and modern technological devices that will aid smooth operations and safety.