By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos State Government has commenced dredging of Ebute-Ojo riverine Jetty and few others as part of measures at boosting water transportation in the state.
For several years, residents of riverine areas in Ojo, a suburb in Lagos State have had to contend with their worst fears.
Hitherto, water transportation system, moving in and out of their vicinity was fast becoming a threat. The shallowness of the water had made it practically impossible for boat operators in the area to move smoothly. In some instances, the result is fatal.
The Ebute-Ojo jetty is one of the four commercial ferry routes out of the 30 already identified as part of activities to scale up water transportation and give a quantum leap to tourism and economic growth in the state.
According to the government, the four routes currently being channelised are 10 kilometres Ebute Ojo to Marina, 7 kilometres Bayeku to Ajah, 16 kilometres Ijede to Marina and six kilometres Ijede to Badore and would be followed with another two, while work on the remaining 24 would be implemented in phases within the next four years.
Managing Director of the State’s Waterways Authority, LASWA, Mr. Damilola Emmanuel, told newsmen that the dredging exercise and channelisation was part of the ground plan to escalate water transportation and explore tourism potential of the inland waterways.
According to him, “Essentially, what we are seeing is the ongoing channelisation which is creating road on water. Our intention is to make any boat or ferry sail freely on our waterways so they don’t run into the issue of being grounded.
“These routes being channelised are part of the thirty routes already identified by the State Government. We are laying the ground work to make things easy for the ferries to travel safely. We are doing this to demonstrate our commitment to water transportation. Through this, we want tourists who travel to our state to be safe while travelling on our waterways.”
The government’s intervention has restored normalcy to the communities including; Abule-Oshun, Ijegun, Apapa riverine communities.
A resident, Hazeez Sulaimon said the situation was one of their worst nightmares. “It was a difficult period for us. Boat operators in the area became apprehensive to ply the waters for fear of having their boat capsize.”
According to Sulaimon, “We cannot thank government enough. They have brought joy to our hearts for we residents and also for the boat operators. Now we can move on boat anytime of the day without any fear.”
“We can now leave by 4am or 5am. Before we have to wait for daylight before we can go our boat. Our fishermen are happy, business is doing better”.
But the residents are hopeful that the State Government will stretch the project to neighbouring communities including Ojo-Egbeda, Etegbin, Erewe-Osolu Kingdom and Iyagbin, a development they say if carried out will give their communities a new lease of life.