Traffic Congestion: Lagos Seeks PPPs In Waterways Transportation
By Kenneth Jukpor
The Lagos State Government has expressed willingness to support Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in a bid to foster growth and investment in the waterways transportation thereby reducing traffic congestion on the roads in the state.
Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu made this disclosure during the Lagos Waterways Investment Summit organised by the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) in Lagos on Wednesday.
The summit was the maiden edition put together by Future Cities Nigeria (FCN) and LASWA on behalf of the state government, themed: “Lagos State Transportation: Transformation and Investment Opportunities.”
Sanwo-Olu stressed that areas of investment required by the private sector included the provision of water transportation (passengers, car and cargo), construction of infrastructure and management, technical partnership and consultancy, financing and provision of logistics.
Noting that the state with 1,171 square kilometres of Nigeria’s land mass, 40 percent is water, with lagoons and creeks covering 22 percent, he maintained that his administration couldn’t ignore waterways transportation.
Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by Mr. Ope George, the Special Adviser, Office of Public-Private Partnership, said successful partnership with the private sector in waterways would bring positive changes in the socio-economic status of the inhabitants of the state.
The governor noted that the state government had made some interventions in the waterways sector, which would further boost the enabling environment for the private sector.
“Please, permit me to mention that on our waterways lies great potential for private sector investment. That the Lagos State Ferry Service (LAGFERRY) ferried members of our national soccer team, the Super Eagles, to Porto Novo on March 26, 2021 bears a bold testimony to this vast potential.
“It was an opportunity for our compatriots and those interested in investing in our waterways to see the huge opportunities of the sector. The players saw the alluring beauty of our country and countryside as well as the majesty of Nature – such a seductive spectacle that only the waterways could have exhibited,” he said.
The governor thanked potential investors, industry stakeholders as well as state and federal government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for their support and participation at the summit.
The Special Adviser on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Investments to Sanwo-Olu, Mrs. Solape Hammond, said the state would identify and promote genuine and specific foreign direct investment on waterways in the state.
Hammond said the state would always serve as a ‘business ombudsman’ that helps investors and the local business community navigate government bureaucracy.
She assured that the state would also act as a one-stop shop for investors intending to invest in Lagos State, thereby promoting private, civil and development sector partnership.
Hammond said it was an incontrovertible fact that Lagos derived its age-long excellence in significant measure from the worthy contribution of the private investment to its socio-economic development.
“This has fuelled it to be the single largest market in the world’s newly formed single-largest market…truly a prized jewel that is a hotbed not only of commercial activity, but of talent.”
“We assure our potential investors that your investments are safe – Fitch international just improved our rating from AA+ to AAA long term for fiscal redpins,” she said.
The governor’s aide said she was looking forward to actualise those plans and together making Lagos the most preferred investment destination in the world.
The General Manager, LASWA, Mr Damilola Emmanuel, highlighting the achievement of the state government in the waterways, said it had access 15 of the 20 local governments in the waterways.
Emmanuel noted that this was to ensure that waterways transportation worked efficiently in the state.
The Managing Director said the purpose of the investment investment opportunities in the waterways was to provide an alternative public transportation service that was accessible and affordable to all sections of the state.
Emmanuel said LASWA had adopted a ferry operators licensing framework, prioritized route had been approved and it also had a route licensing template for private investors to thrive in the waterways transport sector.
On his part, the Managing Director, National Island Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. Goerge Moghalu, urged the state government to collaborate with the federal government on waterways development in the state.
Moghalu said the partnership was in the area of safety, sensitisation campaign for boat operators and security of waterways users, even as he stressed the need to prevent multiple taxation on the part of boat operators.
He assured that NIWA’s door is always open to collaborate and partner with any stakeholder to ensure that the waterways transport is attractive to investors and users in the state.
The Managing Director, Sierra Craft, Prof. Adebayo Otitoloju, said production of locally made boat was a way to ensure development of local content in the country.
Noting that there are huge opportunities in the area of boat production in the country, argued that the initiative shouldn’t be limited to Lagos because some states such as Akwa Ibom, Port Harcourt were also surrounded by water.
The Managing Director identified training as a serious challenge to the production of locally made boat for boat builders in the country, adding that finance was another major issue even as he advised boat builders to think beyond loans and explore partnerships, equity contributions, grants and capital options.
Meanwhile, the President, United Waterways Passengers Association, Mr Pius Agbude stated that the use of waterways saved passengers time in arriving at their destination in Lagos.
Agbude, however, noted that once there was fear by passengers that waterways transportation was not safe then they would be scared to make use of it.
He said investors should not make profits in the short run at the detriment of the safety of passengers, urging them to consider profits in the long run.
Other notable speakers at the event were; the Chairman House Committee on Transportation, Hon. Temitope Adewale, British Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos Ben Llewellyn-Jones, Future Cities Nigeria (FCN) Team Lead Mr. Kayode Khalidson.
Representatives from the Netherlands embassy and French embassy among others, also graced the ocassion.