About 3,350,000 passengers were ferried through waterways in Lagos State between May and July, 2012, statistics from the Lagos State Waterways Authority have shown.
The Managing Director, LASWA, Mr. Yinka Marinho, who spoke to our correspondent, said there was a “tremendous” increase in the number of passengers who used the alternative system.
He said, “In May, about 1,238,000 passengers were recorded; in June we had over 1,305,000 and in the first half of July, 807,604 have been ferried. We hope that by the end of the month, the figure would have been doubled. This means there will be an increase of between 300,000 to 400,000 passengers.”
Marinho said ferries moved an increasing number of passengers from Ojo, Oworonshoki and Ikorodu-ends of the Lagos Mainland to the island, where most of them work, and took them back to the mainland daily.
Repair works had begun on eight expansion joints of the bridge in July, which forced road users to ply alternative routes.
The General Manager, Metro Maritime Services Limited (Metro Ferry), Mrs. Freda Adetula, confirmed that the number of passengers plying waterways had increased.
She said more residents in the state had resorted to water transport system to get to their various destinations due the partial closure of the Third Mainland Bridge.
She said the number had jumped from between 700 to 800 normally recorded to over 1, 500 daily.
Adetula further said passengers preferred to travel by water since the roads were clogged with vehicles, while the waterways were “free and extremely economical.”
She said, “To travel with a ferry from Ikorodu to the island takes about 45 minutes, while a speed boat takes 25 minutes.
“We have 27 boats of different sizes, aside those from other operators, and they are always filled with passengers, particularly when they are going to work in the morning and returning in the evening. It is more comfortable travelling by water, unlike the stress experienced when in traffic on the roads.”
She however decried the challenges facing ferry operators, stressing that they needed government intervention because they were man-made.
She said, “The challenges are enormous. We battle with the wastes disposed in water, water hyacinth and logs of timber transported from Ondo State through the waters. We are still waiting for government intervention.”
Marinho however said the state government had met with wood merchants along the waterways to set modalities on their operations, adding that it was set to punish erring loggers.
The maintenance exercise on the bridge was scheduled to last four months.