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LAGFERRY committed to exploring waterways’ capacity, says Balogun

Passengers comfortably seated and enjoying free internet wi-fi on MV Alausa from Ikorodu to Falomo, Ikoyi. Photo: TWITTER/LAGFERRY

Following Lagos State government’s restriction of commercial motorcycles (popularly known as okada) and tricycles (keke) from operating within the urbanised areas of the state, citing accidents, insecurity, and disregard to the law, Lagos Ferry (LAGFERRY) has expressed commitment to exploring the capacity of the waterways.

Managing Director of LAGFERRY, the state-owned ferry services agency, Abdulbaq Balogun, disclosed this to The Guardian yesterday

He said the boats, which began operation on Tuesday, February 4, at Obadore, Ajah area of the state, was launched to cushion the effect of the restriction of two and three-wheelers in areas of the state that could be reached through the waterways.

The water routes that benefited from the first phase of the commercial ferry service include Ikorodu to Falomo; Ikorodu to Ebute Ero and Marina; Ebute Ero to Ijegun Egba, Apapa and Marina; Bayeku to Oke Ira Nla and Falomo; Mile 2 to Marina; and Badore to Ijede, he noted.

In a bid to cushion the effect of the ban, Lagos recently unveiled 14 new ferryboats to strengthen the inland waterways transport system and make commuting in the state easier for the residents.

Balogun listed the terminals and jetty to include Ipakodo Terminal in Ikorodu; Five Cowries Terminal, Falomo, Ikoyi; Ikorodu/Ebute Ero Jetty, Elegbata, Lagos Island; Marina Terminal, CMS; Badore Terminal, Ajah in Eti-Osa Council; Ebute Ero Jetty, Ojo; and Ijegun Egba Terminal.

He added that the launch was a huge step forward in the integration of multi-modal transportation in the state, a process that began since 1999.

His words, “Commuting the over 20 million people of Lagos largely on the road has, thus far, proven ineffective. The road transportation has been over-stretched, and the introduction of minibuses, tricycle, and motorbikes has mostly compounded the management of traffic across the state. Lagos roads and bus stops continue to play host to stranded passengers.

“Being a megacity and emerging smart city, it is quite obvious that efficient traffic management can best be experienced in Lagos if the three modes of transportation – rail, road, and water – are effectively integrated to complement one another. Technology will play a big role in the integration.”

Balogun explained further that the launch was 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.

Commenting on the durability of the boats, the LAGFERRY chief said, “Three of the boats deployed for operations 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 the smooth and safety ride of the passengers.”

On the challenges impeding the inland waterways transportation system in Lagos, as most residents prefer to get their destination by road rather than by the boat, Balogun said “the narrative of transportation in Lagos is changing for good. We are set to take full advantage of the waterways to decongest our roads and substantially reduce travel time for commuters.

“The launch 14 units additional ferries to complement the existing ferries in the fleet of Lagos Ferry Service 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,” he stated.

With over 30 jetties across the State, the LAGFERRY boss said Lagos has provided infrastructure to boost water transportation, adding that the commencement of commercial operations by the agency would reduce persistent gridlock on the highways.

“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.”

He further explained that the agency is fully committed to exploring the capacity of waterways to strengthen mass transportation in line with transportation blueprint of the Sanwo-Olu administration. He added that before the fourth quarter of the year, LAGFERRY would extend its services to all 40 water routes licensed for Lagos.

Balogun also said that the agency has secured the support of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), which has pledged to collaborate and support LAGFERRY to enhance its operational efficiency.

He stated that the cordial inter agency relationship between the federal agencies of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on one hand and Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) on the other hand, is a good development, adding that such collaboration has not been witnessed in a very long time.

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