News

Lagos And The Challenge Of Water Transportation

By Tayo Ogunbiyi

Addressing the transportation and traffic challenges of a complex mega city like Lagos has been a major priority of the Fashola administration over the last five years. The need to exploit alternative means of transportation mode cannot be over-emphasized given the complex nature of the sector in the state. One of such other alternatives being exploited by the government is water transportation through which seven corridors have been identified for development and mass transportation. This include Ijede-Badore, Badore-Admiralty-Osborne Marina, Ikorodu-Marina, Ijegun Egbe which around Okokomaiko that will burst out at Mile 2 to Marina, Oke-Afa in Isolo to Festac to Mile 2 to Marina, Ajegunle to Marina and Iddo to Marina.
It is a big relief for commuters that operations have begun on Ikorodu –Marina, Badore –Admiralty- Osborne to Marina and also Ijede to admiralty. This serves as an alternative means of transportation and has reduced traffic jam associated with major roads in Lagos, especially on those axes.
Presently, the Ikorodu-Marina corridor has become operational and Lagosians have started benefitting from the several innovations associated with the ferry trip that lasts one hour five minutes. Certainly, the ferry service at Ikorodu has brought significant changes to the lifestyle of people in that part of the state .The park and ride system ( park your vehicle at the terminal , aboard the ferry, return later to pick your vehicle ) has brought down the blood pressure of many hypertensive patients, as they no longer have to rush for buses, lose valuables to pick pockets , get stuck in road traffic for hours or be subjected to the rudeness of drivers and conductors, as well as nuisance of vendors. It has further made it easier for passengers and members of their families to manage their time very well. Equally, there are environmental benefits through reduced noise and air pollution of road transportation and attendant health benefits through reduced respiratory diseases.
The ferry operation along the Ikorodu- Marina corridor began at the end of February, 2009 but was actually commissioned by Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) on 21st April, 2009. Like it is doing in most of its developmental projects, the state government is partnering with the private sector to actualize this noble vision for the transport sector. The nature of the partnership is that the state government creates an enabling environment while the private sector provides the necessary infrastructure in terms of jetties, terminal, ferries, etc. as well as engages in public enlightenment campaigns and generally creates the environment that will make people comfortable with water transportation.
The Metro Ferry has really brought significant changes to the lives of people of Ikorodu area. Instead of many leaving home for Victoria Island by 4.30am -5am, they now leave at 7am to arrive at CMS latest 8am. Car owners leave their cars in the car park of Metro Ferry to board a ferry to CMS thereby escaping the time lag, heavy traffic, discomfort etc that are usually associated with travelling on the road. Certainly, when compared to the hustle and bustle of going to CMS by road, it is a better alternative.
The history of Ferry Service in Lagos State can be traced to the 1970s, when Lagos was the Federal Capital. Then the Federal Inland Revenue Service operated ferry services to Apapa, CMS, Ebute- Ero and other locations. Later, the State Government under the Lateef Jakande administration also came up with its Ferry service, when it purchased its ferry boats, ‘‘Baba Kekere” and “Ita Faji”, to operate very effective services. In fact, the Ferry Services Corporation was established to run the service. The effective and efficient service run by the corporation has still continued to be a reference point in the state, well over 25 years after.
The State Ferry Service Corporation established to provide effective service is no more operating, as the National Inland Waterways Authority Act (Repeal) Law 2008 has created the Lagos State Waterways Authority, which is already functional with a supervisory Board which has been inaugurated by Governor Babatunde Fashola, SAN, to monitor the private operators and ensure they operate within the provisions of the Inland Waterways Law.
The road to the provision of ferry services by Metro Ferry Service has been long and tough. The Federal Inland Waterways Authority had opposed moves by the State Government to take control of its inland waterways. According to the Corporation, it had the exclusive preserve by virtue of the National Inland Waterways Act (NIWA), to operate ferry services, license operators and monitor their activities. It thus continued to issue and renews licenses to ferry operators.
The State Government countered this on the basis that the NIWA Law the Corporation based its actions and legitimacy on, had been repealed by the National Inland Waterways Authority (Repeal) Law.
This ding dong continued till the State Government signed into Law the National State Inland Waterways (Repeal) Law, which created the Lagos State Inland Waterways Authority, as the sole authority on matters affecting inland waterways in the state. Signing the Bill into Law in June 2008, Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) said the State Government’s action in putting in place the new law was constitutional. According to him, the Constitution provides a procedure to modify a Federal Act enacted before 1999, which at commencement of the Constitution is found to fall within the legislative competence of the State. He said the power to modify was defined to include the power to repeal Section 315(4) ( c)of the Law. Therefore, the continued regulation of water transportation by the Federal Agency would impede the legitimate constitutional aspiration of the State Government to explore and develop water transportation in the state.
In order to sustain and attract Lagosians to water transportation, the State Government has been constructing jetties at Ikorodu, Osborne and Badore, in addition to dredging ferry routes. These include Ikorodu – Badore via Oreta, Baiyeku – Ijede, Ikorodu – Osborne, Badore – Lekki, Oke Afa – Mile 2 and Tolu / Ajegunle – Port Novo Creeks- Liverpool. Also, repairs are being carried out on Epeme and Iya Afin jetties. When all the designated corridors for the ferry service become fully operational, this will not only reduce excess reliance on roads as only means of transportation, but also reduces air pollution.
Today, from one operation route in 2007, Lagos is running water transport on 12 routes (Ikorodu-Marina/CMS; Marina – Mile 2; Ikorodu – Addax/Falomo; Ikorodu-Ebute Ero; Marina-Ijegun Egba-Ebute-Ojo; Mile 2 – Marina/CMS-Mekwen-Falomo; Badore – Ijede; Badore – Five Cowries; Marina – Oworonshoki; Ebute Ojo – Ijegun Egba; Oworonshonki – Five Cowries and Baiyeku – Langbasa) under the supervision of Lagos State Waterways Authority while passenger traffic has grown to over one million passengers per month and it is increasing. This has also created additional new jobs with economic multiplier effects on families and society.
With the on-going redevelopment of the Lagos- Badagry expressway incorporating BRT , light rail, and other modern road infrastructure, the introduction of privately operated modern taxis service in addition to the now famous BRT alternative, put alongside on-going efforts to promote water transportation, the Lagos State government is, indeed, working hard to transform public transportation in the State.

Lagos State Waterways Authority was formed following the enactment of the Lagos State Waterways Authority Act 2008, the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) is the organisation responsible for regulating, developing and managing all aspects of the waterways of Lagos State.