Boat operator calls for infrastructure investments in Lagos waterways
By Ekene Okafor, Lagos
Waterways transportation holds a lot of revenue opportunity for Lagos if the State government provides the basic infrastructure for water transport businesses to thrive.
The President, Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (Atbowaton), Mr. Tarzan Balogun, gave the submission during a boat cruise organised by Tarzan Jetty for Women in Tourism Journalism.
Mr. Balogun said developing infrastructure around water transportation would cut travel time for many commuters who often use the usual road.
He said; “A boat from Lagos island can take you to Isolo on the Mainland in about 40 minutes, but it can take you 3hours to get there if you go by road.”
Mr. Balogun called on the government to provide the enabling environment so that boat operators can operate more efficiently in serving commuters in the state.
“Once that is done, government will generate revenue from that because when a boat operator buys a boat, you have to make payment and register your boat and always pay taxes. So government will generate more revenue from it and boat operators will use that to decongest the roads.
”Waterways transportation has been described as one of the safest mode of transport and for a city like Lagos known for its daily road traffic, waterways transportation looks like a viable alternative to reduce road traffic.
”Lagos State can deploy water transport as means of commuting in virtually every area of the state, but the state has to make the required investment in infrastructure. A boat can get to some area in Agege, for instance, but money has to be spent to do the Dredging to make it accessible,” he stated.
Speaking on the challenges the boat operators face on a daily basis, Mr. Balogun acknowledged the efforts by the state government, but said more work needed to be done.
He said; “One of the problems is that we have no fuel stations on the waterways… Now Lagos state government has just built two, one at Ikorodu and one in Falomo. Boat operators can go there and buy fuel. But there are many boats now and those two fuel stations are not enough.”
Mr. Balogun called for more fuel stations in strategic locations, especially where a lot of boats take off from.
According to him, the provision of infrastructure on the water ways should mirror what we see in road transport with bus stops.