Private sector controls 90% of Lagos waterways, but can do more –LASWA

The drive by the Lagos State Government to attract private sector investments into water transportation is gaining more momentum as the private sector now controls 90 percent of waterways transportation, BusinessDay has learnt.

Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, the general manager of Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), who disclosed this in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay, said that the Lagos State Government has been trying to revive and improve the standard of the water transportation system by mobilising both private and public sector investments into the sector.

“We are trying to raise the bar, and the state government brought back the Lagos Ferry Services, which were once present when we had the Baba Kekere, among others,” Emmanuel said.

He also stated that the government was not competing with the private sector owners, but complementing and setting the standards for the kind of boats the government wants on the waterways.

“90 percent of the sector is controlled by the private sector players and just about 10 percent of the boats you see on the waterways are owned by the state government. We want to reiterate that the state government is not there to compete with the private operators, as we are there to provide the needed support as well as set the standards for the kinds of boats we want on our waterway,” Emmanuel added.

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Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos State, is a coastal city of approximately 20 million people, occupying 1,171 square kilometres of land, 40 percent of which is made up of water while 60 percent is land. Almost 22 percent of the water bodies are lagoons and creeks. And due to its location on the western coast, it houses the largest seaport in Nigeria, a significant site for international trade.

Ladi Balogun, managing director, Lagos State Ferry Services, LAGFERRY in a recent commemoration of the third anniversary earlier at the Mile 2 Terminal, Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of the state said that in the last three years, at least 800,000 passengers had been ferried during operations in over 14 water routes which cut across all divisions of Lagos State.

“In the last three years of this administration, the agency has been able to record unprecedented milestones having in its fleet a record number of 20 boats, that ferried over 800,000 passengers on a daily basis in over 14 routes that cut across all divisions within the state”, Balogun stated.

The state has continued to maintain its enviable position as the nation’s commercial centre and accounts for over 65 percent of the commercial and industrial activities in the country.

Emmanuel, also stated that the investment opportunities will therefore complement the efforts of the government to combat traffic congestion on the Lagos roads by providing alternative routes to commuters.

For him, abiding by laid-down rules and standards is paramount for the private sector to keep leading the waterways transport. “As you invest, you also have to enforce the rules because if we do not enforce them we are going to leave a lacuna for people to do anything. But there is full regulation for the private sector players as well as full regulation for the public-owned boats. LASWA is the regulator for both public and private boat operators,” Emmanuel said.

He also reiterated that the waterways are open for more investments, be it boat building, ferry operations, or in terms of the jetty or terminal concession. He further stated that the state government is actively doing all it can to create an enabling environment and also provide safety on the waterways for investments.

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