Mr Tarzan Balogun, the president, Association of Transporter, Boat Operators and Waterways Transportation of Nigeria (ATBOWATN), has urged the Lagos government to harness the state’s aquatic potential to make it a hub in Africa.
Balogun said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos.
He said the aquatic potential and assets embedded in Lagos waterfronts and waterways could not be overemphasised.
According to him, if the state’s aquatic potential in aqua tourism, water transportation, and others are well harnessed, it will boost the tourism appeal of the state.
“If the potential is well utilised, it will put Lagos state on the world map of tourism,” he said.
Balogun commended the efforts of the Lagos State government in developing tourism assets on the waterways.
He said the Lagos Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, recently embarked on a two-day tour of the waterways from Epe to Badagry to explore the investment opportunities that abound around the state’s waterways.
Balogun said the development was a welcome idea as it would help to identify huge aquatic potential yet untapped in the state.
“We have lots of assets on the waterways that are yet to be harnessed.
“Lagos State is blessed with enormous aquatic splendor, eco-tourism potential, and potential in water transportation.
“If all these opportunities are fully utilised, it will boost the economic status of the state,” he said.
Balogun said he had led a trip on the waterways with Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, the Commissioner for Tourism and Arts, Lagos State, to identify the tourism assets on the waterways.
The ATBOWATN president said the trip was necessitated by the need to explore the waterways and make them viable and sell aquatic assets to tourists visiting the state.
He said while the ministry was keen on discovering new potential, the state government was also determined to rebuild tourism infrastructure in the two communities of Epe and Badagry to attract more visitors to the Slave Trade relics and other historical spots in the coastal city.
According to him, the present administration of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu sees tourism as a veritable tool to enhance the economy of the riverine communities in the state.
Balogun said the government had given the commitment to nurture and develop tourism locations discovered in Olomo-metta and Ilase riverine communities.
He said the Lagos state government had also assured residents of coastal communities that all abandoned tourism projects would soon be re-validated and assigned to different contractors for completion.
Balogun described the tour on the waterways as an eye-opener for the ministry, adding that the officials were able to discover new tourism potential around Epe and Badagry coastal communities.
He urged the state government to improve on the infrastructure at Gberefu and other Islands across the state and construct new jetties that are of international standards.
Balogun appealed to the government to further provide an enabling environment for tourism establishments to thrive in the state.
He enjoined all tourism practitioners to co-operate with the state government and the state ministry of tourism to make the sector a viable one.