Fuel Scarcity: Boats Desert Lagos Waterways    

Citing biting fuel scarcity, most of the boats plying Lagos waterways have deserted the various routes.

Investigations by Shipping Position Daily revealed that most of the passenger boats and fishing boats often seen on Lagos the waterways have ran out of business owing largely to scarcity and high cost of procuring petrol to power their engines.

Some boat operators said they could not afford the product as it now sells for as high as N150 to N170 in some fuel stations while others sell higher than that.

A boat captain with a ferry ‘Sea Coach’ who  pleaded for anonymity because he is not permitted to speak with the press, averred that getting fuel to run passengers boats required that you must be highly connected to the oil marketers.

According to him, the battle is for the strong adding that any boat operator who is not financially strong cannot dare to bring out his boat in this era of fuel scarcity 

Similarly, some passengers also complained about the rising cost of water transportation in Lagos. A passenger who identified himself as Kola, who boarded a ferry from Marina to Apapa said that it is better with boats, because they are faster and that they still cheaper.

But reacting to scarcity of fuel for their boas, the Ikorodu Chapter Chairman of Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transport of Nigeria (ATBOWTON), Mr Ayo Aworitan, said that the association has been liaising with some fuel stations to be keeping stock for its members.

"Actually we are trying to liaise with some filling stations in respect of that. But they told us that there is no way they can guarantee us stock that they can not just keep stock for us to come and take. They said that they will continue selling to the public that when they have stock they can think of keeping for us, but when they run out of stock, there is nothing they can do. That is the problem we are facing now", he told our correspondent.

He also lamented the harassment some boat operators suffer from the Police whenever they set out to buy petrol in jerry cans.

"We actually buy in jerry cans because that is the only way we can transport ourselves but at time we get harassed by the Police based on the fact that they feel we want to go and resell at the black market. It has really been a very big challenge to us but we are trying to discuss with fuel stations that will understand with us", he lamented.

He said that before now the number of boats on the sea is higher compared to what  is obtained now.

"Before now, we used to have more than 65 boats operating on our waterways daily, but because of this scarcity we only have about 45 boats daily which is not good for us as operators. They cannot run without fuel it is when you get a rule that you can be bale to rum as an operator", he stated.