Boat operators flay allocation of Lagos Jetties to inexperienced contractors.

Segun Oladipupo/ Abiola Seun

The Lagos chapter of the Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters Owners of Nigeria (ATBOWATON) has expressed bitterness over the allocation of jetties to neophytes.

The state chairman, Engr. Lawal Saheed made this known in a press statement made available to our correspondent on Monday in Lagos.

Engr. Saheed lamented that the beneficiaries of the bidding and allocation process are portfolio operators without experience of boats or maritime operations thereby calling for transparency in the process.

His words, “Ikorodu jetty was given out to an organization without any experience in running jetties, so also Elegbeta, Ojo, Badagry, Epe and many others when ATBOWATON has members with track records and verifiable investments in the sector like Tarzan boats, Seacoast, Seacat and Texas connection.” Engineer  Saheed stated.

He further disclosed that the Lagos State jetties concession process was shrouded in secrecy and called for transparency and a review of the effort which has put its members at a disadvantage.

“Can you imagine operators with investments and presence worth millions of naira, paying levies to organizations without any visible contributions to water Transportation in Lagos?

“These arrangements don’t even add value to passengers comfort or aid operators in any way other than just collect fees. It is very sad and we want the governor to look into the matter so to ensure justice is done,” he lamented.

The Lagos chapter boss however lauded members of the group for efforts at opening and sustaining abandoned, unprofitable water ferry routes as well as discovery of new routes for the benefits of the people in the littoral communities who hitherto were not reached by ferries within Lagos state.

He averred that members of the association towered safety above profit-making

“The history and role of ATBOWATON  cannot be overemphasized as we are in the forefront of helping to develop rural Lagos and provide desirable and gainful boat ferry services to the people.

“Our members are  caterpillars of development, providing access to inter-communal movement, supporting the state government in reaching the unreached from Victoria Island to Badore, Ikorodu, Epe, Badagry, Ojo, Liverpool, Festac, Takwa Bay and many other places, bridging services and human movement with safety insight and not profit.” Lagos chairman explained.

Responding to media enquires regarding the presence and role of its members on water transportation development in Lagos, Engr, Saheed further added that ATBOWATON was a partner to Lagos government and had at various times stood in gap to provide succour to stranded Lagosians who live close to waterfront communities and at critical times, intervened to keep abandoned jetties afloat and useable, spending their hard-earned money.

“A lot of our members invested to broker new routes, and maintain access roads upland to most of jetties at no additional cost to government and people living by the waters or using same to reach their homes in the hinterlands.

“Pioneers like our national president, Mr Tarzan Balogun invested so much in Badore, Ikorodu and even what we know as Victoria Island waterfront and there are also many small-time operators that were consistent in providing services for the people to from the Islands to Mainland without which nobody can readily lay claim to the development of these places. Between Ijede, Badore, Ikorodu Epe, Badagry, and Victoria Island, our members can be  seen moving passengers in droves, putting safety ahead of other considerations.”

He called on Lagos government to support ATBOWATON members to sustain effective boat transport services across the length and breadth of the state in order to open up more communities to development and job openings in tourism and recreation.

“Our members know the waters and the challenges and have continued to offer more affordable services to poor rural communities in Lagos.

And we want to thank NIWA for removing wrecks and abandoned vessels from the waterway which has contributed immensely to safety and near absence of accidents on the waterways in recent times.”  he added.

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