…Host maiden joint search and rescue simulation exercise
…Targets Ikorodu for Q1 2024 waterways security simulation exercise
In a landmark event, the Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA has partnered with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy to host the maiden Joint Search and Rescue Simulation exercise in Lagos.
The event called together other critical agencies in the maritime transportation industry such as the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority, LASEMA, Lagos State Ambulance Service, LASAMBUS, and the Lagos State Fire Service (LSFS) among others to showcase a coordinated effort to enhance safety and response capabilities on Lagos waterways.
Speaking at the event, the Managing Director, Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA, Mr. Damilola Emmanuel stated that the simulation exercise is a demonstration aimed at reassuring the public of the state government’s commitment to enhance the waterways security in the state, promote confidence in the use of waterways transportation and grow the economy of the state.
He shared that plans for future deployments targeting accident-prone areas like Ikorodu and Badagry are underway for the first quarter of 2024 following the zoning approach to ensure all round efficiency and to catalyze real time progress.
“First of all, you heard that this is the maiden edition and I was very clear in stating that the next places we have to get to are those locations in the interior. I can assure you that the next location we would get to in the first quarter of next year is Ikorodu. We know the amount of accidents we have there.
“What we have done is to zone Lagos for these safety issues to East, West and Central. East being Ikorodu, West being Badagry and as I speak to you, we have set up an emergency and rescue at Ikorodu Terminal at Ikpakodo. We’ve also set up in the Ojo axis, Ebute Ojo, and that is a way to help us respond real time
“Following that, we would get to Badagry as well. And the whole point of these is to look at our assets and see how we can utilize these assets. That is what we demonstrated here and of course we hope to deploy it in a real time solution. You as well can recognise the fact that truly, you have seen a reduction in the accidents on waterways on Lagos routes and we would continue at it.”
Giving the opening address, the flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Mustapha Bala Hassan, emphasized the need for collaboration in promoting the focus of Nigeria’s blue economy emphasizing that this initiative aims to shift the transportation focus of Lagosians from roads to water thus reducing congestion on roads.
He emphasized the need for deliberate implementation of the strategies tested during the simulation, highlighting that plans for 2024 include backup measures and financial support to sustain these efforts.
The Navy Chief also stated that as part of plans for the coming year, the Navy in collaboration with NIMASA are in talks to set up an offshore search and rescue operation base to bridge the distance gap in responding to security threats on Nigeria’s waterways.
“With the advent of the blue economy and the push for its development, we came up with the idea of taking Lagosians off the road to be more water friendly. That is, to get over the sea blindness in Nigeria. This is actually the brainchild of the collaboration between NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy.
“We plan to have deployment at critical spots in the inland waters of Lagos which would reduce the transit time to accident spots which is critical and with the support we have been promised by Lagos State, you would see ports spring up along the waterways.
“There is a plan also for the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA to conduct the search and rescue operation offshore. That would also boost the confidence of the national traders to show that when they have issues at sea, we would be there to intervene. Of course we would use ships and helicopters in that venture.”
The Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu who was represented by the Lagos State Commissioner for Transport, Dr. Federico Oladeinde, expressed support for the initiative, pledging assistance in deploying resources at critical spots along Lagos waterways.
“We are assuring Lagosians that the waterways are safe. We actually need to pick up people from the roads. The congestion needs to go down and the only way is to use our integrated intermodal transport system which waterways will play a very big role in and we have mapped out strategies to make sure that this is what we get in real life, real time situations”, he said.
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