• ‘We Will Comply With All Regulations’—– Boat Operators
Days into the partial closure of the Third Mainland Bridge for rehabilitation, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) said it has deployed floating jetties to help bring water transportation services closer to commuters throughout the six months’ duration of the repair of the bridge.
In a statement issued over the weekend by the media adviser NIWA, Frank Meke, the Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Engineer Sarat Braimah said that the floating jetties are to compliment the flagging off of four brand new water transportation routes at Adekunle, under the third mainland bridge outward Oworonsoki from Yaba, another at Lekki Phase One by NIWA police post, at Oyingbo and at Owonrosonki, in-bound the Lagos Island.
The NIWA Lagos boss said: "These alternate transportation services certainly will help reduce traffic flow, save users of the bridge expected stress, loss of valuable man hour and also ease vehicular movement of goods and services out of the island, not foreclosing the health benefits of using water transportation".
Braimah also noted that the intervention by NIWA was well thought out as the effort will not only bring water transportation services closer to Lagos communities, but will provide the needed data for initiating a blanket floating jetty projects across the vast Lagos inland waterways under the watch of national inland waterways authority to operationalise a revolution on water transportation as a solution to the unexplainable traffic situation in Lagos.
On security and usage of the floating jetties, Braimah informed that security will be provided round the clock at the identified take off points by NIWA Police and sister security agencies, while the organised boat operators in Lagos will man the daily operation at the new jetties.
"We are collaborating with the Lagos chapter of the Association Tourist Boat operators and water Transporters (ATBOWATON) and their chairman, Mr Lawal Saheed has assured of a 100 percent buy-in on this project", Engineer Braimah further explained, adding that all categories of water transportation services will be monitored to avoid any mishap or sharp practices"
"We are determined to make it work despite lean resources at a time like this and we expect Lagosians to embrace the effort. And to make the new routes popular, we have done radio jingle and likewise, printed hands bills to be distributed at strategic points to motorists and other commuters who will be encouraged to park their vehicles either at home or at the designated jetty areas and take to the waters for ease of doing business even after the bridge is fully opened to capacity operations, she stated.
The NIWA moves come even as motorists who use the very strategic 3rd Mainland bridge have also expressed fears over safety even as they resolved to embrace water transportation to get to their various destination.
The passengers' fear is borne out of the boat mishaps that have occurred on Lagos waterways in recent time.
An opinion sampling poll of passengers by Shipping Position Daily confirms that women between the age bracket of 45-60 years prefer to take a longer route to their destination than boarding ferries at jetties, while men between the same age bracket were indifferent Shipping Position Daily. But, a larger percentage of youths between the age bracket of 20-40 years prefer to use the waterways than to take a longer route via road to their destination.
Speaking to at the CMS jetty in Marina, Mr. Joseph Folorunsho in his late 50s said: “ I stay at Ikorodu, even before they announced the closure of the third mainland bridge, I have been taking boat to Ikorodu, I see no reason why I should be afraid, I prefer traveling by water than by road, for me there is no cause for alarm, we will only advice the boat operators to be more careful and not to carry overload”.
But, Mrs. Juliana Aina who is in her 60s, said she would rather take a longer route than to resort to water transportation, she said her fear for water transportation is as a result of the recent boat mishaps experienced on the waterways.
“I have phobia for water, so I will rather take a longer route by road than for me to travel by boats, not even with the news of boat mishaps on the waterways, so for me I won’t advice anybody close to me to use the waterways’, she said.
Speaking also, a serving member of the National Youths Service Corp, among other youths who spoke to Shipping Position Daily said, traveling by water during the partial closure of the third mainland will be fun for him, while stating that there is need for regulatory agencies to ensure that boat operators adhere to the rules of passenger putting on life jackets and as well avoid night traveling.
Also speaking to Shipping Position Daily , the spokesperson of LASWA; Mrs Nkechi Ajayi said that LASWA intends to increase operations and enhance infrastructure on the Jetties and Terminals that will be most impacted by the partial closure and traffic management of the third mainland bridge.
“The Marine Police are being briefed on the importance of their monitoring particularly this period as there will be increased activities on the inland waterways.
“LASWA and NIWA would embark on constant monitoring with its patrol boats to ensure strict enforcement of laid down rules and regulations .”
Ajayi also said that the Lagos State Bus Services Limited will be providing buses in this period at Strategic Jetties and Terminals to serve as Last mile connectivity for Passengers.
While speaking on safety on the waterways, she said LASWA will collaborate with LASEMA and Safety Commission for the implementation of the following immediate goals, Safety procedures for Boat Operators and Passengers during the partial closure period.
“Collaborative efforts to be put in place which include having Safety Marshals and Water Guards stationed at strategic jetties to implement safety protocols.
“Strategic positioning of Rescue boats, Land Ambulances and other Safety Personnel at strategic locations.