By WILLIAM JIMOH & JONAH NWOKPOKU
Stakeholders in the water transport sector have called on the Federal Government to provide intervention fund and assist water transport operators to improve services in the sector.
Some of the stakeholders, who spoke with Vanguard, said with the current decline in the number of Lagosians patronising water transportation and its implication on the ever busy Lagos roads, the Federal and Lagos State government need to assist the water transport operators in a bid to rescue the sector from total collapse.
“At the moment, government has withdrawn its participation in the water transportation business, handing over the business entirely to the private sector, but few private operators have been attracted. Presently, there are only two private operators, and one has suspended operations due to its inability to pay berthing fees to Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA,” one of the NIWA officials who preferred anonymity said.
One of the stakeholders, Mr. Joseph Oladehinde, a former sailor with Nigerdock, maintained that the high cost of running the boats without government intervention is forcing the private operators out of business, adding that the business is more than what the operators can do alone if it must help to decongest the roads effectively.
“The generators have to be run, the engines have to be run, they will have to pay their workers and still they will want to make profit. With that if there is no help, the service may not be effective and efficient as it ought to be or even be able to sustain their business.
If this thing is operating well just as it was during the military regime when there was Federal Urban Mass Transit Authority, running ferries for the Federal Government just as Lagos State Government was also having its own, the masses will always see this place as a substitute to the road,” he said.
One of the passengers who preferred anonymity noted that the recent increase in the boat’s fare may have accounted for the decline in patronage, adding that there is need for government at all levels to work with them in other to ensure their growth.
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