Water transportation might be a solution to Lagos dilemma. A few weeks ago, we witnessed the Keke and Okada restrictions and bans in many parts of Lagos. Now there are talks on water transportation, let’s look at whether that is the best transportation solution in Lagos
The ban on Okada and Keke in Lagos has met with a major outcry from citizens. Now they must work walk great distances to reach their destination. Already the city suffers from congestion. Therefore, the ban would only force the purchase or more vehicles, which naturally takes more space on the road and does nothing to decongest Lagos’s roads.
It’s no wonder, major policy experts and specialists have viewed the ban as a foolhardy mission. However, there appears to be another solution in the works; this time, water transportation.
Consequences of the Keke/Okada Restriction
Yes, Lagosians are outraged at the ban, which already forces productivity and efficiency in the city, to become inexistent.
To many, it only looks as though the state is moving in the wrong direction.
People in the city have long faced spending up to four hours to reach destinations. Now, with the imposed trek, those hours’ increases by another two hours, this is alarming.
Naturally, the problem with transportation in Lagos is a decade-old problem owing to the poor planning of the city.
Therefore, the ban does not do much than worsen the situation, regardless of the reasons suggested by Governor Sanwo-Olu.
You would recall that the Governor cited accidents, disobedience to traffic rules, security breaches, and premature deaths of tricycle and motorcycle riders as the main reasons for the ban.
Since the ban, the Government decided to add more vehicles to the already-congested, misplanned roads. Imagine a poorly planned route, which always looked like a tug-of-war with less space taking tricycles and kekes now filled with buses and cars of all times. One might wonder if chaos will continue to be the only way to describe Lagos.
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Should we look towards water transportation?
Naturally, the reasons behind getting the tricycles and motorcycles out of the roads are reasonable. However, getting more vehicles into the roads is not also a feasible solution. It seems even the Governor is well aware of that alarming gap and is doing everything possible to look towards water transportation.
On February 6, the Governor unveiled its plans for the commercial waterways with the launch of eight newly acquired speedboats. The new commercial operations also ushered in another organization, LAGFERRY that will control and regulate the activities.
The LAGFERRY is currently expected to go through six routes, including Ikorodu to Falomo; Ikorodu to Ebute Ero, and Marina; Ebute Ojo to Ijegun Egba, Apapa, and Marina; Bayeku to Oke Ira Nla and Falomo; Mile 2 to Marina, and Badore to Ijede.
According to the launch, four of these boats can carry 25 passengers, two can carry 50 passengers, and two can take on over 30 passengers.
Where the Solutions Lie
Lagos is a state that is bounded by water on almost its entire end. In truth, major islands and even the most remote locations can be reached by water in less time than the congested.
Nevertheless, there is more to be done than releasing a meager eight ferries into the waterways. In a state that boasts of over 30 million people, eight boats that can combine carry only about 200 people is a disappointment. However, that is only an inch of the problem.
The Lagos waterways have equally been known for its share of gruesome accidents for the past few years. One could only wonder if the increase of boats will not also increase the number of accidents on the waterways as well.
Frankly speaking, the waterways are already suffering from pollution effects and off-course the era of “sand-filling” the oceans.
Therefore, thousands of deaths may equally occur if the Government does nothing to create an effective system for the regulations of these waterways.
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Too Far from the Solution
That said, the use of water transportation in Lagos is a welcome idea that can indeed solve the transportation problems in the state. However, many more challenges may arise if not properly planned.
I believe that the Governor should forget about focusing on the procuring of boats but instead focus on creating superior standards for safety, which is the critical aspect of it all. The Government should instead look towards collaborating with corporations for the provisions of boats and jetties.
Initially, LASWA manages and controls activities. The Lagos State Ferry Services has also helped revamped the system. The new system LAGFERRY may also provide an advantage.
However, it is not truly about creating new organizations, but modifying and restructuring all existing organizations. To that end, the Government should focus on safety, quality, and efficiency. Without creating an effective system, planned water-routes, safety-guards, and all the works, the venture would simply fold on itself.
These systems must be robust that they could run themselves long after the demise of the present Government. We all know that Nigeria is rife with underdeveloped projects started by one Governor and discontinued by the next.
The gaps yet filled
Despite the solutions posed by the waterways, the restrictions on Okada and Keke are, in fact, premature. This is because there is a current lack of adequate alternatives. The ban should only come after provisions of an enormous number of boats if there were a need for a ban at all.
When the waterways are truly capable of taking on the population’s needs, the roads will automatically decongest, as people will immediately embrace the multiple ways to get to their destinations. When that time comes, it will become easier to impose regulations on all transportation vehicles, as there will be a definite halt to the era of unscrupulous driving.
On the economic scale, the ban simply reduces the spending power in Lagos because more people are discouraged from moving around, which hurts the economy tremendously.
Water transportation is also an avenue for job creation and foreign investment. If properly handled, it can be the solution to Lagos’s current traffic saga. However, the Government should focus on building an effective system that promises safety and efficiency to Lagosians. For the procurement of water vehicles, the Government should collaborate with corporations, so that the highest standards can be enacted. Overall, the water system must be structured expertly to last long after the demise of the present Government; else, it becomes ridiculed in the long run.