The Lagos State Government is seeking for both Public and Private collaboration to foster growth and investment in the waterways transportation thereby reducing traffic congestion in the state.
Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the state made this disclosure during the Lagos Waterways Investment Summit organised by the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) in Lagos recently.
The summit was the maiden edition put together by Future Cities Nigeria (FCN) and LASWA on behalf of the state government.
The theme of the event is Lagos State Transportation: Transformation and Investment Opportunities.
Sanwo-Olu said that areas of investment required by the private sector included the provision of water transportation (passengers, car and cargo), construction of infrastructure and management, technical partnership and consultancy, financing and provision of logistics.
He noted the state with 1,171 square kilometres of Nigeria’s land mass, 40 per cent is water, with lagoons and creeks covering 22 per cent, adding that, this was why his administration cannot ignore waterways transportation.
Sanwo-Olu, represented by Mr Ope George, the Special Adviser, Office of Public-Private Partnership, said successful partnership with the private sector in waterways would bring positive change in the socio-economic status of the inhabitants of the state.
The governor noted that the state government had made some interventions in the waterways sector, which would further boost the enabling environment for the private sector.
“Please, permit me to mention that on our waterways lies great potential for private sector investment.
“That the Lagos State Ferry Service (LAGFERRY) ferried members of our national soccer team, the Super Eagles, to Porto Novo on March 26, 2021 bears a bold testimony to this vast potential.
“It was an opportunity for our compatriots and those interested in investing in our waterways to see the huge opportunities of the sector.
“The players saw the alluring beauty of our country and countryside as well as the majesty of Nature – such a seductive spectacle that only the waterways could have exhibited,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu said the summit could not have come at a better time other than then when the state was the country’s tiniest state.
He added that yet it was the most populous and the engine-room of its business and commercial activities, housing headquarters of many giants in the financial and industrial sectors.
The governor thanked potential investors, industry stakeholders and, of course, state and federal MDAs for your participation at this summit.
The Special Adviser on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Investments to Sanwo-Olu, Mrs Solape Hammond, said the state promised to identify and promote genuine and specific foreign direct investment on waterways in the state.
Hammond said the state would always serve as a ‘business ombudsman’ that helped investors and the local business community navigate government bureaucracy.
She noted that the state would also act as a one-stop shop for investors intending to invest in Lagos State, thereby promoting private, civil and development sector partnership.
Hammond said it was an incontrovertible fact that Lagos derived its age-long excellence in significant measure from the worthy contribution of the private investment to its socio-economic development.
“This has fuelled it to be the single largest market in the world’s newly formed single-largest market…truly a prized jewel that is a hotbed not only of commercial activity, but of talent.
“We assure our potential investors that your investments are safe – Fitch international just improved our rating from AA+ to AAA long term for fiscal redpins,” she said.
The governor’s aide said she was looking forward to actualise those plans and together making Lagos the most preferred investment destination in the world.
The General Manager, LASWA, Mr Damilola Emmanuel, highlighting the achievement of the state government in the waterways, said it had access 15 of the 20 local governments in the waterways.
Emmanuel noted that this was to ensure that waterways transportation worked efficiently in the state.
The managing director said the purpose of the investment investment opportunities in the waterways was to provide an alternative public transportation service that was accessible and affordable to all sections of the state.
He said: “The investment opportunities will therefore compliment the efforts if the present government to combat traffic congestion on the Lagos road.
“it will also reduce the amount of time it takes for citizens to commute especially during the peak period.
“In addition, this will also assist in poverty alleviation through increased economic activities from the provision of safe, cheap and reliable transportation.”
Emmanuel said LASWA had adopted a ferry operators licensing framework, prioritized route had been approved and it also had a route licensing template for private investors to thrive in the waterways transport sector.
The Managing Director, National Island Waterways Authority, Mr Goerge Moghalu, urged the state government to collaborate with the federal government on waterways development in the state.
Moghalu said the partnership was in the area of safety, sensitisation campaign for boat operators and security of waterways users.
He said the state government should also partnered with the NIWA in the area that would not lead to multiple taxation on the part of boat operators.
The managing director said NIWA door was opened to collaborate and partner with any key stakeholders to ensure that the waterways were attractive to investors and users in the state.
The Managing Director, Sierra Craft, Prof. Adebayo Otitoloju, said production of locally made boat was a way to ensure development of local content in the country.
Otitoloju noted that there were huge opportunities in the area of boat production in the country.
He noted that the opportunities was beyond Lagos because some states such as Akwa Ibom, Port Harcourt were also surrounded by water.
The managing director identified training as a serious challenge to the production of locally made boat for boat builders in the country.
He added that finance was another major challenges for boat builders adding that they dont need loans but partnership, equity contributions, grants and capital options.
Contributing, the President, United Waterways Passengers Association, Mr Pius Agbude said the use of waterways saved passengers time in arriving at their destination.
Agbude, however, noted that once there was fear by passengers that waterways transportation was not safe then they would be scared to make use of it.
He said investors should not make profits in the short run at the detriment of the safety of passengers, urging them to consider profits in the long run.
Speakers at the event inlcuded the Chairman House Committee on Transportation Hon. Temitope Adewale, British Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos Ben Llewellyn-Jones, Future Cities Nigeria (FCN) Team Lead Mr. Kayode Khalidson.
Others are the representatives from the Netherlands embassy and French embassy among other notable speakers.