The Managing Director, Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Mr. Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, has stated that the use of water transport in Lagos State has witnessed tremendous transformation with over two million riders in a month.
Emmanuel stated this during the 3rd Annual Stakeholders Forum in collaboration with the Badagry Chambers of Commerce in Lagos yesterday, saying that there was an increase in ridership figures on the waterways in the state despite the occurrence of boat mishaps.
The LASWA boss said with over two million monthly riders, the state waterways were able to withstand significant pressure shifted from the road traffic, yet the potentials were endless.
He said the safety of all waterways users in Lagos state was important to the authority and would not shy away from discharging it.
Emmanuel said that engaging stakeholders in the water transport sector was deliberate as it bothering on safety guidelines and improvement on water transport operations specifically in the Ọjọ-Badagry axis.
He said: “We are all saddened and worried by the unfortunate incidents of boat mishaps recorded on this axis especially in recent past. We pray to the Almighty to grant the families of departed souls the fortitude to bear the loss.
“To forestall the reoccurrence of such regrettable incidences, today we are issuing out new Operational Guidelines for Ferry Operations in the state while restricting the usage of jetties across the entire Badagry axis.
“LASWA has also donated 500 Life Jackets of different sizes that will be distributed to all boat users and participants here at the forum.
“We have also commenced a massive safety awareness campaign across all jetties and terminals in order to educate and sensitize ferry passengers and Boat Operators on safety procedures.”
Emmanuel said as a responsible agency, it would not relent on our efforts at making sure the accident record was near-zero.
He added that LASWA would not rest on its oars until it achieved clean, safe and prosperous waterways in Lagos.
His Royal Majesty, Oba Akran of Badagry, Aholu-Menu Toyi 1, urged the government to ensure regular enlightenment of boat operators to enhance water transportation in Badagry.
The royal father, who was represented by Baale of Topo, Chief Michael Avose, commended the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce, Badagry Chapter, for facilitating the enlightenment programme and advised boat operators to avoid taking alcohol when riding boats.
In his goodwill message, Secretary, Lagos State, Private Boat Operators, Mr. Owolabi Omotayo, commended LASWA for prompt rescue during the last boat mishap in Badagry recently.
Omotayo said that the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUA) had been working with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in ensuring the boat operators were trained and certified.
The President, Badagry Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (BACCIMA) Fatai Shokunbi, appealed to LASWA to ensure that Badagry was not left behind on the development drive in the state.