The Lagos State Government on Wednesday said that it has stepped up efforts to clampdown on illegal jetty and boat operators in the State in a renewed effort to stem the tide of boat mishaps often caused by illegal operations on the inland waterways.
Managing Director of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Mr. Oluwadamilola Emmanuel in an interview with journalists, said that strict enforcement which would be meticulously carried out across the State, adding that the Government would stop at nothing to ensure that operators adhere to the safety standards.
“Being a developing sector, one of the things that LASWA has had to do is to be very strict on enforcement. Enforcement is going to be an ongoing thing because you would constantly have those people who are going to default. In terms of clamping down on jetties that are substandard is something that LASWA has been looking to go round the state to clamp down on illegal jetties,” he said.
Emmanuel explained that while the State Government was working round the clock to improve the sector for optimal performance, the core objective of LASWA is to ensure that safety, being a key feature of water transportation is not compromised.
He said the safety of passengers getting on a boat was far beyond wearing life jackets, stressing that it was important to also ensure that the jetty or boat operator had put other safety measures before embarking on any journey.
“For us in LASWA, safety is really our culture and one of the things we promote in the last few years is the wearing of life jackets. If you go across the inland waterways you will find minimal people who would not comply, most people are generally aware that they should wear their life jacket.
‘The very first thing one should note is the kind of jetty they are getting on, first of all is it a substandard jetty, is it a state approved jetty, does the jetty have any issue and then even if they are getting on a boat, which boat am I getting into? The life jacket; is it ripped, does it have any damage? Then who is the captain of the vessel?
These are the things that any person intending to cross from one jetty to another need to take into consideration before embarking on any vessel”, the LASWA boss said.
Speaking on some of the ongoing efforts to develop water transportation sector, Emmanuel said that the State Government under the administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was working on creating dedicated routes for boat operators, saying that plans were ongoing to create at least 30 routes across the State to boost intermodal transportation.
He said four routes were currently being dredged and would be channelized between now and the first quarter of next year, noting that the process would be in phases.
Besides, he said the Government after channelization would proceed with the upgrading of existing jetties as well as building new ones, explaining that the State currently oversees 26 jetties spread across the 20 local governments with water guard corps stationed in the jetties to ensure safety.
“The next thing is to register the boats to make sure that we have a data base of all the boats that are currently plying the waterways, to find out if they are safe and if they should be on our waterways.”
“The vision of LASWA is to ensure a safer and cleaner waterways which is currently in line with Governor Ambode’s vision of a safer, cleaner and more prosperous Lagos and this we are totally committed to pursuing”, Emmanuel said.