“Today we are very happy reaching another milestone of commuting our 100,000th passenger on the 124th day of our operations, since the commissioning of our new boats by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in February 2020”.
Those were the words of the Managing Director, Mr. AbdoulBaq Ladi Balogun, Lagos Ferry Services (LAGFERRY), during the recent celebration of the company’s 100,000th passenger at the Ipakodo Terminal, Ikorodu.
While expressing his appreciation to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for his unflinching support and the passengers for their continuous patronage and loyalty, Ladi-Balogun stressed that LAGFERRY will continue to provide safety and optimal services on all its passenger boats across the metropolis.
This is coming on the heels of the celebration, in a 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.
This is an indication that Lagosians are beginning to appreciate and embrace water transportation. For Lagos to be a functional smart city, there must be diversification of the mode of transportation which includes the interconnectivity of the rail, road and water transportation systems.
Today, many megacities of the world depend on more than one mode of transportation. Therefore, the need to exploit alternative means of transportation mode cannot be over-emphasized.
One of such other alternatives being exploited by the government is the waterways. Putting into consideration that the State occupies 3,577 square kilometres with water bodies accounting for 25% of its geographical landmass, water transportation has great potentials in Lagos.
The milestone recorded by LAGFERRY, is, no doubt, a good indicator that the transportation narrative is about to change for good in the State.
It is worthy of note that 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 is arising from the massive road rehabilitation and construction going on across the State.
According to Ladi-Balogun, the Agency is fully committed to exploring the capacity of the waterways to strengthen mass transportation in line with the transportation blueprint of the current administration.
Some of the routes the agency operates include Ikorodu to Falomo, Ikorodu to Ebute Ero, Sandfill, Falomo and Marina, Ikoyi to Badore, Ebute Ojo to Ijegun Egba, Apapa and Marina, Bayeku to Oke Ira Nla and Falomo, Mile 2 to Marina and Apapa, Badore to Ijede, Sandfill and Falomo, Ilaje Bariga to Falomo, Sandfill, Badore, Marina and Ebute-Ero.
LAGFERRY has equally introduced additional routes for more residents to enjoy its services.
LAGFERRY boats are built with absolute comfort with in-built Wi-Fi and modern technological devices that aid smooth operations and safety with the capacity to carry up to 60 passengers. Also, the boats are available for charter to host parties, Annual General Meetings (A.G.M) and for tourists.
Much emphasis is particularly being placed on the safety of the waterways. 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 the current level of investment in water transportation, Lagos, no doubt, stands to experience an 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 this latest development, it is cheering to state that the state government is not resting on its oars as it is poised to 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.
There are equally plans to build modern jetties in Badagry, Lekki, and Ajegunle, just as the one being built in Ijegun would soon be completed. Also, before the fourth quarter of the year, LAGFERRY would extend its services to all 40 water routes licensed for Lagos.
On the whole, given the complex and vital nature of public transportation in the State, the Sanwo-Olu Administration has done well by investing in and developing intermodal transportation.
By the time the Lagos light rail project becomes effective and expanded, coupled with renewed efforts to improve water transportation in addition to numerous on-going road projects across the state, a more effective and reliable public transportation system will emerge.
Ogunbiyi is Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja