As a result of the traffic congestion that has marred movement within and around the port access road in recent time, coupled with the participation of more private investors in water transport system, the Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has said it had generated seventy percent of its total revenue of 2014 in the first quarter of 2015.
Our correspondent gathered that water transport has received more patronage since the commencement of the gridlock which started about two weeks ago in and around Apapa and Tin can areas.
Speaking with our correspondent in his office recently, the Lagos Area Manager of the authority, Engr. Mu’Azu Sambo reiterated the achievements of the agency under the Federal Ministry of Transport which includes bringing in Public Private Partnership (PPP) which has brought in another nine new boats into the water transport system in the first quarter of the year.
He said that NIWA had provided platforms for the boats to do jetties in Ikorodu, Victoria Island and Apapa adding, that the boats are modern boats that cannot easily sink because of the way they were constructed.
“We have been able to generate almost 70% of what we generated in the whole of last year in the first quarter of this year. There is massive increase in the number of passengers plying the water in the past two week.
“The Apapa gridlock, they have four boats here moving people to Apapa, three over there. Each of them carrying a hundred passengers and each of the boats carry thirty two passengers. Thrity two times four is equal to One hundred and sixty eight so you can imagine one hundred and sixty eight in about four places and it only takes four minutes to move from here to Apapa,” he said.
He however quipped that people have now discovered the efficiency of water transport even as he said that most people who have discovered the efficiency and safety of the water ways will henceforth abandon their cars and use the water transport system.
Asked why the cost of water transport is high, he said the cost of running the boats might be responsible for the high cost of transportation.
He likened the new private intervention to one of the latest achievements of NIWA in the first quarter saying it will help facilitate easy movement of passengers plying the water ways in Nigeria.
He said, “I don’t know if you were here last year where I talked about investors coming with international standard code. You can recall several incidents of deaths that were recorded on our water.
“Now, we have carried out extensive research and found out that one factor behind all these deaths is lack of suitable boats. At the beginning of this year, we were able to identify some groups who have brought in nine brand new boats into Lagos, they acquired terminal in Ikorodu and provided a platform for them to do a jetty.
“We also provided a space for them at Victoria island to do another jetty in order to move people into Ikorodu and CMS on one hand and then Victoria Island to Ikorodu on the other hand and also to ferry passengers across to Apapa.
In another development, the NIWA Lagos Area Manager has suggested to the incoming government of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to relocate the headquarters of the agency from Lokoja in Kogi state back to Lagos for effective performance and to enhance relationship between the stakeholders and the agency on issues bothering on water transportation in Nigeria.
Sambo reiterated that the advantages are tremendous if the agency relocates to Lagos, stressing that NIWA is set up to develop inland water business in Nigeria.
He argued that NIWA is neither in a state where it will gain political recognition nor a place where operational activities are carried out, noting that Lagos State would be an advantage to decision making for the agency.
He noted that as the fourth mode of transportation aside air, road and rail which has been developed to a certain level, water system of transportation can convey cargoes and passengers in large quantity than the others.
“Lagos is the hub of maritime activities in Nigeria so where better do you think would be better to locate NIWA headquarters if not Lagos State”
“This is my own personal view and I believe that the advantage of having NIWA in Lagos supersede the advantages it has in Lokoja”
“Lokoja is neither in the Federal capital where we can say we are close to the supervising ministry, which the proximity can help solving administrative issues nor is it in Lagos, where it is a proximity to all the stakeholders in the maritime industry”
He also stated that water transport business is lagging behind considering the enormous potentials.