Abiola Seun }
Bank of Industry (BoI) and National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) are concluding plans to avail boat operators funds to build vessels that meet stipulated safety standards.
The initiative is targeted at further strengthening the inland waterways transport sector, which has been characterized by substandard boats leading to accidents and loss of lives.
Mrs. Sarat Braimah, Area Manager, Lagos, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) revealed this over the weekend.
She said, “NIWA has written BoI to allow boat operators or would-be investors access to funding. The deliberations have been fruitful and I can say they have reached about 70%.
“Probably, in the next three months we should see boats that have been sponsored by BoI,” she said.
According to Braimah, NIWA has been unable to fully enforce compliance to the specification of boats as itemized in its guidelines for safety as a result of absence of funds to support boat operators.
Following the six months partial closure of the Third Mainland bridge for repairs, she noted that NIWA has facilitated the opening of three jetties to connect Lagos residents to various parts of the State.
Her words: “We know a lot of people will be so worried about the closure of the Third Mainland bridge and that is why NIWA has sprung up with a lot of alternatives. We already had several routes for transportation via the waterways.
“However, we have opened a jetty under the bridge at Adekunle so that anybody coming from Ikeja, Maryland, etc, can connect via waterways to Victoria Island, Lekki, and Ajah.”
“Another jetty was also opened by Lagos State at Ilaje/Bariga which is the Univeristy of Lagos (UNILAG) axis of Third Mainland bridge. People heading to Apapa and other environs can connect via this jetty from Yaba environs. It would take less than 25 minutes for this journey but more than 5 hours via the roads because of the traffic congestion.”
She encouraged Lagos residents to embrace water transportation, describing it as safe and secure.
According to her, over 30 police officers have been assigned by the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) Maritime to the new jetty locations and routes to guarantee safety of those who opt for the waterways.
She noted that boats have been provided at the stipulated locations to sample the level of patronage on Monday June 27th, 2020, adding that more boats would be deployed based on the demand.
Noting that the only boat mishap recorded in Lagos this year was a result of night travel, she reiterated that boat operators in Lagos are only allowed to do their business from 6:30am to 6pm.
“If you find an operator who asks you to come onboard a boat after 6pm, you are doing that at your risk,” she added.