Lagos state, a city of aquatic splendor is surrounded by water, according to the Lagos state government, 65% of Lagos is aquatic which leaves the state with only 35% of land mass. As small as Lagos is in terms of land-mass, Lagos is the most populated state in Nigeria and the whole of West Africa.
Lagos is estimated to have about 20 million citizens, these consist of Nigerians, foreigners, tourists and lots more. Lagos has been battling with traffic, barely a day in the city of Lagos won't there be reports of traffic jam, accidents or bad roads. A comedian once said, Lagosians live in traffic, we only visit our homes once in a while. The law enforcement usually have a filled day trying to keep the motorists in check, it gets worse when you have the commercial drivers popularly called danfo drivers, the Keke Napep and the Okada riders on the same road as these folks are always in hurry thereby causing damages to cars.
One would have expected the Lagos State Government to take advantage of the sea for easier and quicker transportation for its citizens but this seems not to be the case as water transportation is the least patronized in the state. Even the train gets more patronage that water transportation. The Lagos State Water Transportation Agency (LASWA) seems not to be doing enough awareness in this regard unlike its sister agency, LAMATA in public enlightenment and the benefits of using water transportation.
We visited the LASWA office in Ikoyi where we saw some new boats the Lagos State Government has purchased for easier transportation and for safety of the passengers and while we are about praising the heavens, the passengers interjected that the boats were only there for decoration as they have never been used to convey passengers before instead, they refer them to the local ones. We are yet to confirm this from the management of LASWA as we truly noticed that the boats are hardly used, unlike others.
We are in a meeting and AutoReportNG spoke to a few people on why they are not using the boats especially those that live in Ikorodu that spend almost 5-6hrs in traffic. One of the respondents named Ayo says, I would rather die than enter a boat, I don't care how much it costs and the security apparatus it comes with, water transportation is not safe in Nigeria. I would rather spend days on the road than spend minutes on the on a faulty boat. Mr. Ayo said he once board a boat and the engine stopped working midway while they are in the middle of the sea, he says it takes God's intervention for the boat not to capsize that day, since then, he has sworn never to board ferry, boat or ship again in Nigeria.
Another respondent named Seun said, when it comes to maintenance, Nigeria is at the back seat, if ordinary BRT, the state government is having issues maintaining them, what can we say about the boats that ply the sea. If there is an accident on the road, at least you are sure of survival because people will help to rescue you but who will rescue you on the sea? That's easy access to see God.
We spoke to Mr. Adeshina who also gave a different opinion based on the earlier two, he said, I am using the boat regularly, I work in Apapa and I live on the Island, the best form of transportation is the boat. I board the boat at CMS and in less than 30mins, I am in the office. Most times when people complain about tankers on Apapa Bridge, I just laugh because I have never experienced such before. As good and easy as water transportation is, the sector needs a lot of work before people can embrace it. Mr. Adeshina continued by saying, most of the sailors (drivers) are not educated, they only rely on their local techniques, some need to be trained using the modern method in case there is an emergency. Also, the state government need to invest more on boats and give subsidy to those who want to go into this sector, boats are not for babies, as most of these boats are locally made and those that are foreign made are second-hand, they cost millions and you have to calculate your pocket before you jumped into it.
AutoReportNG spent some time at the Victoria Island water side close to Walter Carrington where we observed the freshness of the sea, especially on a Sunday evening. We noticed that the whites (foreigners) love aquatic life. They pile the sea more often than Nigerians though they have stronger, expensive and luxury boats, they see water transportation as a means of sking, having fun and also a shorter way to beat the Lagos traffic.
These are some of the images we have for you.
LASWA Office, Ikoyi