By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Governor Babtunde Fashola of Lagos State has approved the operation of 21 routes on its waterways as part of efforts at reducing traffic congestion on the roads.
Similarly, the government is providing infrastructure and security apparatus to promote more investment opportunities in the waterways to complement road transportation.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Opeyemi Bamidele, who disclosed this, weekend, said the measure was in consonance with Fasholaâ€™s pledge of keeping his campaign promise to effectively utilise the aquatic nature of the state to boost transportation.
According to him, Fashola has directed the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) to license more big ferry operatorsÂ to give people better choice on the 21 navigational routes in the state and to technically phase out local boats.
The governor, Bamidele said, also directed LASWA to recruit water guards to enforce the use of life jackets by ferry and boat operators and that the agency in turn had placed sufficient personnel in every jetty in Lagos to disallow people without life jackets from using the state waterways.
He said water transportation was the safest if the phobia associated with water is removed. He said more good ferries are coming into the state to enhance water transportation, adding that the focus of the state government is to bring in big investors particularly in the manufacturing and running of big ferries.
Bamidele noted that the governor had directed that a standard be maintained by the LASWA on the construction of jetties in the state, adding that the state government had provided two patrol boats, a fire boat, a search-and-rescue boat, 15 anti-terrorists guards and employment of men to monitor safety compliance on Lagos jetties.
Bamidele who noted that safety was a dominant factor in water transportation, said LASWA had met with the relevant stakeholders in water transportation in the state with a view to ensure safety.
He said the agency had made the wearing life jackets compulsory for passengers of ferries and local boats.
The commissioner said LASWA had equally extended its advocacy visits toÂ riverine areas in the state to enlist the support of local boat operators, fishermen and traders on the need to maintain safety on Lagos waterways.