The General Manager of LASWA, Mr Oluwadamilola Emmanuel said this on an Instagram live programme organised by the Zoemaritime Resources.
According to him, the authority has mapped its Emergency and Rescue Unit into East, West and Central divisions, with enforcement units at Falomo, Ojo and Ikorodu axis.
Emmanuel said that would enable the authority to easily respond to emergencies that come up within five to seven minutes.
“Presently, we respond to emergencies from our Falomo jetty, but we want to get more boats so that we can expand to other locations.
“The good thing about this is that there are existing infrastructure in those locations, just to deploy the boats when they come in; with that, within five to seven minutes, responses to emergency will take place,” he said.
According to him, the waterways is an interlinked community, with the agency working with local divers who are always the first to see emergencies, and also with fishermen, loggers, dredgers and others.
He said that there were 26 functional jetties across the state.
Emmanuel said that one could reach 15 local governments out of 20 by waterways in Lagos State, and the infrastructure at the jetties were being improved.
The general manager said that government was creating an enabling environment for private operators to bring in ferries that would help to shuttle people from one point to another.
He said that Lagos was not developing waterways in isolation, as the plan was to link it into the multimodal transportation system.
Emmanuel said it was called intermodal because it was just the waterways and the buses that would be linked, and when the railway was added, it would become multimodal.
According to him, anywhere there is a jetty, the road links are being rehabilitated by the ministry of works to ensure that buses that come there pick up passengers.
The general manager said that certain locations had extra land that ensure there was ‘park and ride’, which would lead to developing a hub.
“Waterways is underdeveloped for now and this is a sector that requires huge capital to develop, and it is largely driven by the informal sector and they make up about 80 per cent.
“To modernise the sector, we did an assessment of the existing infrastructure because the existing one was initially built for communities and mostly concrete jetties, and with such jetties, one cannot easily embark and disembark, and so the need to install floating jetties across board
“The boats, this is part of the reason that people do not want to use water transport, and so to change the mindset of people and encourage them to use the waterways, we advanced from the local boats to the modern ones, but the issue with waterways is that it is capital intensive
“We needed to work with private operators to ensure we get the modernised boats and government has also helped by creating an enabling environment,” he said.
The LASWA boss said that to ensure professionalism, LASWA was working with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to ensure the certification of personnel, both captains and the deck hands.
Emmanuel described the waterways as an informal sector where a lot of operators learn how to drive boats locally, and need their knowledge to be enhanced.
“To improve on their local knowledge, we need to utilise the supply chain, we need to work with established educational institutions, partner with already existing maritime educators because collaboration is the key for the future.
As regards time frame for boat operations, he said that they were also guided by the federal government law that states that boat transportation cannot go beyond 7pm.