By Kingsley I. Ilechukwu, Senior Correspondent Lagos
The Lagos State Governor, Babjide Sanwo-Olu, has launched mobile app for a transportation arm mandated to take full advantage of the state’s waterways, Lagos Ferry Services and also commissioned eight new ferries in addition to existing fleet of boats already servicing several corridors on Lagos waterways.
Governor Sanwo-Olu explained that in pursuance of his administration’s T.H:E.M.E.S agenda, transportation system within the state was very important and as a result, needed special attention for Lagos to attain smart city status, and also to ease pains of long and uncomfortable commute for residents of the state.
Speaking at the commercial launch event on Tuesday, at Badore Jetty, Lagos, Sanwo-Olu had disclosed that the launch was in fufillment of his campaign promises concerning provision of effective and integrated inter modal transportation systems, one of which was taking advantage of Lagos’ vast waterways through consumer friendly and safety conscious speed boats.
Sanwo-Olu had explained that a mobile app was necessary to facilitate better consumer experience, increase response rate to complaints and suggestions and also as a tool of accurate data collation on Lagos ferry services within the state.
He revealed that the eight boats being commissioned had been named after notable Nigerians including All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain , Bolo Tinubu, and stated that all the new ferries had been constructed locally using state of art mechanisms that could rival those of other major countries.
“Today, we are launching 8 units of additional ferries, named after prominent Lagosians including our leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to complement the existing 6 ferries in the fleet of Lagos Ferry Service,”
“Let me emphasize that these boats were constructed here by our local builders and they come with state of the art technology you can find anywhere else in the world. We are proud of this feat and I am using this medium to once again assure our local builders of patronage and urge them to continue to maintain international best standard”.
The governor explained that addition of these boats would increase efficiency of ferry services in the state, as each boat had capacity to ferry 40 to 60 passengers per trip, and also encourage more people to avail themselves of a more comfortable means of transportation.
“The ferry boats we are launching today will commute passengers from Ikorodu, Ebute Ero, CMS, Badore, and Ikoyi amongst other routes. The idea is to decongest our roads and with these, more people will reach their destinations faster and with less stress than going by road,”
“Let me use this opportunity to assure lagosians that we have put in place adequate measures to ensure safety on our waterways through the empowerment of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) to effectively discharge its monitoring and regulatory duties. In the same vain, we will also sustain cordial relationship with federal regulatory agencies including Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
“We intend to keep our waterways safe and would do all within our power to make it so. We are also fully committed to increase investment in the development of more routes on the water ways, construction of more jetties and provision of more modern ferry boats” he said.
Sanwo-Olu had called on interested private sector investors, stating that there were still many corridors to be created and that all who were ready to comply with laid down safety regulations were welcome to invest in Lagos water transportation sector.
Said he: “There is room for more private sector participation in water transportation as we continue to provide more facilities and ensure full compliance with safety regulations. Private investors are welcome as long as they are willing to comply with the high standard of operations expected of them.
“As I draw to a close, let me emphasize that intermodal transportation is the way to go, given our natural endowment, increasing population and the need to ensure efficient movement of materials, goods, services and people. 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 roads development projects across the State, it is expected that a more robust public transportation would evolve in the State and Lagosians would be the better for it”.
Lagferry Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Abdulbaqi Balogun, in his address, lauded Lagos as the ‘State of aquatic splendour’, being that it was surrounded by about thirteen lagoons and major rivers, notable among which are Lagos, Lekki, Yewa, Badagry, Ologe, Iyagbe, Kuramo, Apese, Epe and Mahin lagoons, all being fed by several rivers like Ogun, Ona/Ibu, Oshun, Shasha and Oni rivers.
Balogun had explained that every part of the state, and all five of its administrative divisions were accessible via its waterways which boasted of over thirty jetties, and a long history of water travel, especially as means of commuting goods and imported merchandise to hinterland areas of the state.
He described waterway transportation as a resounding solution to incessant traffic gridlock on Lagos roads, and highlighted that, with more people being ferried accross water to their destinations, at shorter times than would have held going by road, more people would choose the convenience and safety of ferry services, thereby freeing up the roads for seemless commute.
Said he: “Not only are our boats safe and spacious, they are also fitted with state of the art technology like built in wifi systems, on board entertainment systems, phone charging ports and trackers systems to ensure safety of lives and properties.
“We intend to make commutes even easier as we will operate online and offline booking services, punctual ferry timing and an interactive app, which has been launched here today by our Governor, for an all round constumer experience,”
“Lagferry services is not open only to passengers as we offer safe, affordable and professional haulage services accross the state, thus relieving the roads of heavy duty trucks which are main factors contributing to the incessant gridlock and deterioration on our roads”.
Balogun disclosed that staff capacity building was paramount to him and his team, because they had realised that only with well trained and dedicated staff could all their goals be achieved.
He added: “We just recently concluded our annual operational retreat to build capacity, prepare our workforce for challenges ahead, and instill our new core values of Safety, Teamwork, Excellent services, Customer-centric and Integrity (STECI) in all staff.
“Lagferry is set to safely sail Lagos. Together, we shall redefine water transportation in the state and achieve a ‘Greater Lagos’”.