By Abolaji Adebayo
Following the rebirth of water transportation in Lagos State, the agency in charge of the sector, Lagos Ferry Services (LAGFERRY), said it was able to convey about 200,000 passengers through waterways within 150 days of its operation in 2020.
As part of effort to tackle the traffic issues across the state and the need to create an instant alternative transportation system to decongest the roads, the state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in line with his T.H.E.M.E agenda, procured new eight state-of-the-art boats in February 2020 at Badore, Ajah, to commence public transportation by the waterways.
The LAGFERRY Managing Director/CEO, Hon. Abdoulbaq Ladi Balogun, while reviewing the agency’s activities in 2020 at a Workshop organised during the weekend, said the agency commenced operations from six major routes by deploying 12 boats immediately after the launch.
He said the Workshop, with the Theme”Resilient Sailing for Sustainable Economy” was organised to review the success of Y2020 with a view to strategically positioning LAGFERRY for the challenges ahead in 2021 in order to develop a resilience sailing economy for the State in line with the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda of the State Government.
While analysing its operations in 2020, Balogun said: “We were averaging daily commuting of between 800 to 900 passengers and by the month of June we had ferried our 60, 000th passenger and by September we celebrated our 100, 000th in the person of Mr Murtala Balogun.
“I can proudly tell you that we had commuted over 200, 000 passengers within 150 days of operation in the Y2020.
“In the same year, one of our boats, MV Ayangburen, christened the sea warrior of water transport accomplished a feat of completing 22 trips in 7 hours 6 minutes.
“A total number of 2,857 persons have been commuted on our chattered services to different part of the State for pleasure, recreation and business.”
He cited a notable achievements and huge milestone recorded by LAGFERRY in 2020 to include the expansion of services to Epe, Badagry, Agbowa-Ikosi, Agbara and Ibeju-Lekki areas of the state.
The LAGFERRY MD said the agency contributed 38 per cent of the water transportation index to the transportation matrix of the state, improved water transportation’s contribution to the state’s GDP from 0.2 per cent to 0.08 per cent, paid high premium to safety and achieved an accident-free record.
“This was in addition to the provision of a reliable alternative intermodal transportation for residents, by helping to decongest road traffic and assisting in ensuring ease of doing business through the waterways”, he added.
He said LAGFERRY has been assisting in ensuring ease of doing business by providing innovative logistics solution for cargoes of corporate Lagos through the waterways despising the deplorable state of the Apapa road which has been making it difficult for businesses to be transacted seamlessly.
He noted that the agency was able to successfully move 41,040 trucks from its terminal between January and December 2020, adding that 2,308 cleared goods containers have been received from the port while 941 containers have been loaded back to the port, giving the agency the opportunity to create 284 directly and indirect employments.
Balogun, while mapping out LAGFERRY’s operational strategies for 2021, added that the service would have done better if not for the interruptions caused by the COVID–19 pandemic and #ENDSARS protests.
He assured that commuters would witness a lot of transformation in water transportation in 2021, as arrangements had been concluded by the state government to increase the agency’s boat fleet to 20.
He said the agency would work harder to meet the mandate given by the Governor to move 30 percent of Lagosians by the waterways in order to decongest the road.
Balogun said LAGFERRY would reciprocate government’s huge investments in water transportation, with improved and efficient service delivery to its customers in the new year.
“I urge you to stay tuned and expect more remarkable giant strides in water transportation in the first quarter of the new year, as we take delivery of additional world class, state of the art, boats to increase our fleet to 20 and our capacity to meet the ever increasing demands,” he said.
He appealed to residents to embrace the unlimited possibilities offered by water transportation, to ease the incessant traffic gridlock in the state, while commending the state government’s efforts and commitment to intermodal transportation system in the state, with huge investments in water transportation.
He assured that the agency would remain committed to the safety of passengers and would not compromise on any of the COVID-19 safety protocols relating to water transportation.
Meanwhile, the Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), Lagos State Resilience Office (LASRO), Arc. Gbolahan Oki, charged the agency to be more proactive to achieve the 21st century water transportation system so that the state government can commit more resources to the sector.