The Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) on Tuesday blamed recent drop in passenger traffic on the Lagos waterways on improved and better operation of the transit buses from Ikorodu to different parts of Lagos prompting passengers to patronize them more.
Recall that the Managing Director of LASWA, Mr. Oluwadamilola Emmanuel in a recent statement said that the passenger traffic on the waterways had dropped from 2,000,000 to about 1,500,000 monthly in recent times.
However, speaking to newsmen during an awareness and simulation exercise carried out by LASWA in partnership with the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Mr. Emmanuel said that efforts were on to increase the number so as to take the pressure on the roads onto the water which was why LASWA licensed ten new operators who would be bringing in more ferries by next year to meet the expected passenger traffic.
According to him,”Several factors can contribute to this issue but the truth about this is, if you noticed, like we mentioned, there is going to be a marine unit which LASEMA is going to control. That marine unit is strictly for emergency and response on the waterways like you have on the land.
“So, with this kind of thing that we are talking about, with the more boats that LASWA is going to purchase next year as well, you are going to see that response which for anyone on the waterways, by the way, you look at all these boats that we are calling to regularize and inspection that we are carrying out on all these boats, by the time we are sure that all those boats are doing what they are supposed to be doing, you will see that generally, people will become more water confident.
“And remember, our people generally have phobia for water, that is another thing you also have to take into consideration. So, that general phobia for water is something we are trying to say,look, you don’t have to have phobia for water once you have your jacket on, even if you can’t swim, the life jacket will sustain you once it is properly worn”.
He noted that the above was the reason why they took it upon themselves to enlighten the boat captains and deck hands to be aware adding that they were also checking their vital signs as a lot of them had health issues.
On boat operators issuing substandard life jackets to passengers, the LASWA boss added that once they accost such operators, they would seize the life jackets from them and then end their operation since they cannot function without life jackets.
Asked if it was enough punishment for the defaulters, he responded,”It is enough because you will not function, you dare not go on the waterways without putting on a life jacket”.
On his part, the General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Mr. Adesina Tiamiyu observed that the essence of the simulation exercise was to show Lagosians that the Lagos State government was also concerned about water safety as well as to demonstrate to them that there were basic rules that should be followed when one had to work on the waterways.
“Basically, anybody who should be on any boat, the first thing you must have on is your life jacket. If you wear your life jacket properly, you will be saved but if you don’t wear them properly, there is a problem. We have demonstrated here now to see, for those who wear their life jackets properly, you saw the effect and for those who do not wear it properly, you also saw the effect.
“What we are campaigning and telling Lagosians is insist on wearing a life jacket when you are in a boat so that if anything happens, before help comes, there is something to make you stay afloat. That is what we have come to demonstrate”, he explained.
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