At least, two million passengers commute on Lagos’ waterways on monthly basis, says the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA).
Managing Director, LASWA, Engr. Abisola Kamson in a chat with newsmen yesterday in Ikoyi, Lagos, said the number of passengers commuting on the state’s waterways had grown over the years, saying that currently, about two million passengers now use the waterways monthly.
She said the water guards of the authority provided statistics on daily basis on the number of passengers plying the jetties in the state, saying that many people were now used to commuting on the waterways and that the number still kept on growing.
Kamson also said the challenge being encountered by LASWA on waterways was that of clash of interest between it and the National Inland Waterways Agency (NIWA), noting that the problem had been addressed and that the two agencies have come together as partners to regulate activities on the state’s waterways.
She disclosed that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode recently in Abuja brokered a meeting between the two agencies in Abuja in a bid to find lasting solution to the issue at hand as to who controlled the waterways in Lagos.
According to her, managing the waterways operators have been very challenging, with the disagreement between the two agencies top of the bill.
Kamson said now that LASWA and NIWA have resolved their differences they now ready to partner to ensure that the waterways is safe, adding that, in the light of this, the two regulating agencies would be holding a stakeholder meeting with operators in the system tomorrow to unveil new operating guidelines to them.
She stated that the new guidelines would include, quality of boat used on waterways, size of the boat, size of the engine, speed limit, general safety and insurance for passengers.
The LASWA boss said operators would be given a period to comply with the new guidelines after which government would begin strict enforcement of the guidelines.
Kamson further disclosed that plans were underway to ensure that captains piloting the jetties were duly certified after re-training in order to streamline the waterways system and make it more effective and safe.
She said the authority is working closely with the Marine Police in order to police the waterways and make it safe, adding that plans were underway to ensure that jetties and boat operators not licensed by the state government were not allowed to operate on the waterways as such constituted security threat.
To realise this, Kamson disclosed that the authority was planning to channelize the waterways so that each boat operator would have a particular route to ply instead of plying all routes indiscriminately.
This, she said, would enable the authority monitor the number of approved vessels plying certain route, which would make for safety of the waterways.
On the issue of water hyacinth obstructing movement on waterways, Kamson said this was not peculiar to Nigeria alone as Los Angeles in the United State encountered similar problem, but stated that the authority had engaged the services of locals to clear the hyacinth from the water manually, adding that the government was planning to procure mechanized equipment to clear the hyacinth from the waterways.
She also appealed to Lagos residents to desist from dumping refuse and open defecation on water as such practice could impede movement on waterways, decrying that government had had to spent huge money to clear all these debris from the waterways.
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