By DAPO OLAWUNI
Boat operators under the aegis of Waterfronts Boat Owners and Transport Association of Nigeria (WABOTAN) has welcomed the new Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, even as they charged the Minister on the need to extend the Federal Government’s subsidy removal palliatives to waterways transportation sector.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Monday by the National President of WABOTAN, Comrade Babatope Fajemirokun, the association commended President Bola Tinubu for carving out the Marine and Blue Economy out of the Transportation ministry.
The association equally described Mr Oyetola as a productive administrator, even as it enjoined the minister to hit the ground running.
While setting an agenda for the new Minister, WABOTAN lamented that since the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government, patronage of the water transportation business has dwindled drastically.
“Recently, there is removal of the fuel subsidy which is affecting the sector, we want the Minister to look at what could be done, whatever stimulant and specially packaged palliatives that he could bring to stimulate that sector which is seriously affected
“Here in Lagos, we have seen a reduction in people travelling by water because the subsidy removal has made fuel very expensive, you cannot run a business at a lost, if you buy fuel very expensive, you must add it to your cost.
“There is a comparison between travelling by water and by road, the attraction before now was that water transport was more affordable, it saves a lot of time and cost. For example, before now, Liverpool to Badagry was N1,500 so people prefer to go by water. However, right now, the journey is N3,500 upwards, so people would rather go by road and seat inside the traffic for hours.
“We also want the Minister to encourage stakeholders in this our sector in ways that we see other sectors being encouraged. For example, the Lagos State Government has developed palliatives for the road transport operators by reducing the price of BRT busses by 50%, it also instructed the Parks and Garages to do the same.
“As a result of this palliative, people are excited, the government should replicate the same to the water transportation sector.
“It doesn’t really take much, they should Deploy the pay-points where people can use their cards and enter the boats. If from Liverpool to Badagry is N4,000, the passenger pays N2,000 and it is on record and documented that government can payback to the operator” the statement read
The WABOTAN President also noted that the Marine and Blue Economy is very large and that it potends great development for the Nigerian economy.
“First and foremost, we want to congratulate the Minister as he resumes office, we feel strongly that he is going to perform, and he has no other option than to perform, considering his antecedents, he has been a very productive administrator
Our prayers is to welcome him and wish him well.
“The blue economy is a very large sector, it is so large that ordinarily, the best thing is what President Bola Tinubu has done by creating its own ministry separately out of the Transportation ministry.
“We want to believe that the new minister as he resumes would hit the ground running. The sector is not just international, the internal water transportation, tourism is also very vital” he said