Water transportation passengers have expressed worries over the dilapidated state of some of the boats and ferries plying the Lagos inland waterway.Recall that boat mishaps have been on the increase in Lagos state in the last few years and experts have claimed that most of these accidents are caused by rickety boats plying the waterways.
The accidents, it was gathered, have claimed several lives and wounded many.
In a chat with our correspondent over the weekend, agitated passangers said most boats operating on the waterways are disaster waiting to happen.
They further argued that while the boats are rickety and substandard, they also lack safety gadgets and accessories in case of emergency.
A passenger who identified himself as Seun Olowe, who travels from Ikorodu to Apapa everyday, said passengers from Ikorodu have continuously lamented the state of the boats, even as he added that several times, the boats stop in the middle of the waters due to faulty engines or bad state of the boat.
He said, “This is not the first time we are complaining about the state of the boats, but it seems the regulators are just concerned about their fee, they pay no attention to the lives of the people, it’s unfair.
Pointing at some of the boats at the jetty, he lamented, “In fact, these ones you are seeing are even still better, if you see some, they are worse than these, those are the ones they call open coffins and many of them are just so bad, but you don’t have a choice but to use them, if you must get to work early.”
Another passenger, Oyinkansola Oyewo who spoke to our correspondent, also decried the state of the boats, while calling on relevant agencies to arrest the situation before it leads to further loss of lives and properties.
She said, “Yes, sometimes when we are on water, our hearts are in our mouth, because anything can just happen and they will tell you that the boat has stopped working, I have had cause to change boats about four times from Ikorodu to Apapa because those boats are old and not in good condition.
“And I think this issue of water hyacinth is really disturbing them; you need to come to Ikorodu and see what water hyacinth has done to the waters, you can barely even see the waters, and when this hyacinth hooks the ‘half-alive’ engine, it will just stop working and sometimes we are stranded for more than 20 minutes before another boat will come, it’s just so bad coupled with the fact that many of the life jackets are worn out and have expired” she lamented.
The Lagos state Chairman of the Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON) Mr Lawal Babatunde had stated that the association is working to ensure that the boats are in good condition.
He said members of the association have been warned not to use rickety boats, he also lamented that the price of boat engines have skyrocketed.
According to him, it cost over N10 million to get a new engine of 200hp, while it cost about N2.5 million to get a tokunbo engine.
“So you see, sometimes it’s not our fault, boat spare parts are very costly nowadays, even the engine cost about N10 million to get a new 200HP, while it cost about N2.5 million to get a tokunbo, that you don’t know if it is in good shape,” he said.
Effort to get response of the General Manager, Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Sarat Braimoh,proved abortive as text messages sent to her line were not responded to as at the time of this report.
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