With government constructing standard jetties and dredging the waterways along the Badagry coastline, fresh investments would be attracted on that route to grow the nation’s economy, boat operators have said.
Government, they say, also needs to collaborate with investors to tackle insecurity on the Badagry waters by ensuring safety of passengers on transit.
Speaking during an interactive session with newsmen after a tour of Badagry brown water economy, Babatope Fajemirokun, chief executive officer of Simtop Ventures, said the Badagry waters can take a share in the inland water transportation, if there is a level playing field for private sector firms to grow.
Using Simtop Ventures as example, he said, his boat business along Badagry route started with a boat and five passengers about eight years ago, but has now increased to about 45 boats.
“Currently, the Badagry to Lagos routes on a daily basis now have over 100 boats with destination stops at Abule Osun, Ijegun, Kirikiri, Liverpool, Ebute Ero, even up to Makoko. On return journey, routes like Epe, Whispering Pine, Ajido, Marina, Gawo, Apa, Gbaji up to Port Novo. The traffic has increased tremendously,” he said.
Fajemirokun, who doubles as chairman of the Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON) Badagry Zone, further said that the economic and tourism opportunities inherent on the waterways can be fully harnessed with strong collaboration that would speed up the interest of investors that is supported by a regulatory agency like the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
“To make the Badagry axis viable, government needs to provide the needed navigational and regulatory support to enable private sector to be the driver. There is a great opportunity for economic activities and growth along the axis,” he said.
He pointed out that the private sector has proven itself to be hardworking and resilient especially along Badagry, but with wide acceptance of impact standard as criteria for funding, the private sector can soar.
Fajemirokun said that Simtop Ventures recently trained 400 boat operators as part of its drive to grow capacity, adding that there are plans to take the training to Ikorodu and Epe before the end of the year.
He disclosed that there is an ongoing discussion between boat operators and government across the various levels in terms of getting a world-class Jetty along the Badagry axis, adding that ATBOWATON and NIWA are in collaboration in respect of the Marina Jetty as work is ongoing.
“Some financial institutions are interested in supporting us. We have submitted our proposal to them. Already, the soil test plan and other requirements have been done,” Fajemirokun said.