A significant increase in economic and business activities is expected around the Lagos waterways between now and the first quarter of 2018 as the state government is set to award contracts for the dredging and channelisation of the waterways.
This is to allow for free navigation of bigger passenger vessels as well as open up the sector for new investments, and key it into the overall inter-modal public transportation master plan of the state.
Lagos, a state with large water bodies currently utilises less than 2 per cent of its waters for public transportation due to a number of factors, including safety concerns, absence of navigational aids and long standing jurisdictional issue with the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), a narrative that is now changing for good.
Among major routes listed for channelisation within the next six months are Falomo, Osborne, Ikorodu, Badore and Marina. Several other routes connecting different parts of the state are also to be opened up, in what Abisola Kamson, managing director of Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) said would be executed in phases. The plan would also see to the upgrading of some of the existing jetties and making them more passenger-friendly.
Kamsom’s position was confirmed by Paul Kalejaye, chief executive officer, Lagos State Ferry Services (LAGFerry), who said the state government would be deploying standard vessels soon as the dredging project was completed. Both spoke in an interview with BusinessDay last weekend.
Also to be introduced on the waterways, according to Kamson, are Global Positioning System (GPS) trackers, cameras and other navigational aids, aimed at further enhancing the safety and making the sector more attractive to investors and commuters. The ultimate objective, according to Kamson, is to integrate the waterways into the public transportation master plan, with the target to grow monthly ridership within the next 10 years, from the current 2 million, to 15 million passengers.
This move, according to her, is encouraged by the recent ruling of an Appeal Court, which upholds the powers of the Lagos State House of Assembly to make laws regulating and controlling economic and commercial activities within the state’s inland waterways. On the back of the appellate court’s ruling, the state government is building a database of boat operators, dredgers and other forms of businesses around the waterways, to enable it track their activities and effectively monitor their operations.
“Each vessel would be tracked with the new technology to see the level of compliance with the safety measures we have introduced including the use of life jacket, number of passengers per boat, engine capacity. There is going to be a total transformation on the waterways; a win-win situation for the state, operators and passengers.
“We expect that those engaged in any form of activities on the waterways would take advantage of this moment to register and be captured in our database or would be seen operating illegally. We are ready to apply sanctions and prosecute illegal operators in line with our laws,” said Kamson.
Paul Kalejaye, CEO of LAGFerry, who described ferry as the safest means of commuting, said the current administration has resolved to give commuters an entirely new experience on the waterways following the Appeal Court’s judgment which now allows Lagos take full charge of its inland waterways.