EYEAFRICA TV: Lagos, Nigeria: In a bid to provide a suitable option to road transport for residents, a Nigerian firm has come up with the concept of a water taxi in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria and the largest African city with a population of around 21 million people.
Lagos has long been troubled by traffic jam. One research shows residents spend an estimated six hours in traffic commuting around the city every day. But with the city’s improving ferry service, more residents are now trying out the waterways, which cut commuting time by about 90 percent. Sandra is one of them.
“The ferry does it fast, because I spend barely 30 minutes, 25 to 30 minutes getting into work on the Island. But if I’m going to take the bus, I spend close three to four hours depending on the time I leave my house,” said Sandra Ndubuisi, a local resident.
The improved ferry service in the city should be attributed in part to Lagos water taxis, which is run by a local firm, Halo-Waters.
CEO of Halo-Waters, Andrew Olana, pointed out the government is taking an inappropriate approach to address the current traffic problem in the city. He believed that developing water transportation would be of much help.
“It puzzles me when we hear the government has gone to buy BRT buses, because it congests the road more. They are doing this. They are doing that. Put in the same boat. If you put 800 boats on the water, it’s not going to weigh the water down. There’s a service that needs to be provided, but the private sector is waiting to take over that business,” said Olana.
Despite the waxi initiative, investment in the city’s water transportation is still very low. Also there is also the issue of safety concerns of commuters.
“A lot of us are not wonderful swimmers, and this is what we are talking about, so really, yes, people are scared of using the water because they don’t feel safe. Nothing is guaranteed. But just the feeling of being safe would enable someone to decide to try out a new means water transportation,” said Ndubuisi.
Waxi is setting the trend in safety, which is the reason why more and more people are now getting attracted to the waterways. But Lagos water transportation is still far from the ideal. It requires much more investment than it is getting at the moment.
Lagos will be the largest city in the world by 2100, housing an astonishing 88 million people, forecasts Global Cities Institute of the University of Toronto, according to the United Nations.