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2009-07-07:Inside the ferry


Passengers in one of the ferries
Things are moving beyond the expectations of most sceptics. Kunle Awosiyan took a ride in one of the new ferries plying the Lagos waterways and concludes that the right adjective to qualify the experience is ‘SPLENDOUR’.

The sky looked misty and cloudy as if it would rain on the Monday morning. From a distance one could hear the rumpus of the sea as one of the ferries glided to the bay. The six ferries were painted red, creating aesthetics at the jetty.

For the first time in about 20 years of living in Lagos, the fervor to board a ferry took control of my thought. One could not imagine swimming in the flood not to talk of travelling nautical miles on the sea.

In a short time and for a fare of N150 per passenger, the ferry was filled up ready to sail from Ikorodu jetty of Ebute Ipakodo Metroferry Service to Marina.

“Has everybody got a life jacket? One of the crew had asked. Though the question sounded rhetorical, it doused the tensed mood of the pasengers, who were boarding the ferry for the first time.

The ferry was unhooked from the clasp as the captain started the engine and it cruised away as the passengers gazed at the ocean.

It is a 40-minute journey and for the first five minutes on the sea, no passenger could talk to each other. It was a silent minute for some, who perhaps had to say their last prayer. The ocean roared, the wind blew as the ambient temperature decreased to the minimum.

Like a duck, the boat whirled away from the sun to the shadow created by aquatic plants along the course to Marina. The experience changed as passengers began to throw banters.

One of the passengers, who simply identified himself as John, had told his friend that he was so afraid to board the ferry. He said, “I thought I would sink. This is my first time of travelling on sea but I think it’s a nice experience. I’m enjoying it.”

His friend had replied,:“You are a coward. That means you cannot go to war. You don’t know how to swim. I pity you.”

The chitchat had filled the air when the ferry suddenly hurdled, creating an abrupt silence among the passengers. For the next five minutes, the ferry was leaping and gliding as passengers kept their hearts in their mouths.

Towards Marina, life came back to the ferry with a sort of ridiculous laugh from one of the crew. Mockingly, he said, “Don’t you know there are potholes on the sea too? But nothing will happen to you. You are safe.”

After about 45 minutes of aquatic splendour, the ferry steadily crawled to the Marina jetty as a crew ran to the back to fasten it to the rock. The passenger climbed out one after the other wearing smiling faces.

“It was a nice experience. I think it is less stressful compared to road transportation, Miss Yetunde had told our correspondent.

Yetunde works in Marina but lives in Ikorodu. She said that the emergence of the ferry service had changed her way of life. As she put it, “since the ferry service came to operation, I have abandoned the road transportation because of the stress. Now I get to office without sweat.”

She lamented the traffic situation she always faced while plying Ikorodu Road to Marina, adding, “I spend more than two hours everyday in traffic to travel on road from Ikorodu to Marina. By the time I got to work, I would be so tired. But now I realise that I’m a bit strong. I’m ready to perform any duty in the office now.”

To Mr. Funsho Ali, more people will soon embrace the ferry service, adding, “In the next one month, I don’t think the number of ferry here will be adequate to convey passengers because we have been telling our friends the kind of enjoyment and safety that it provides for us.”

He stated that though those who had phobia for water might not like to travel on water, it is the best means of transportation in Lagos now.

“The first time I boarded it, I was afraid but I have begun to like it now. I don’t think I will go back to the road except on weekends,” he noted.

In his comment, Mrs. Rebecca told the Nigerian Tribune that since the ferry service began operation, her husband had always arrived home on time. She explained, “My husband now sees our children before they sleep.”

Asked if the cost is commensurate with the service provided by the ferry, Rebecca said, “I think the cost is okay. Even if you go by road, one will still pay more. I spend more than N300 from Ikorodu to Island by road.”

The passengers’ metro ferry service was inaugurated in Lagos about three weeks ago by the state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola as one of the ways to ease the problem of transportation in the state.

The state government through the present administration, had embarked on massive construction of jetties in the last two years. Its plan was to build four jetties before the end of this year through Public Private Partnership scheme.

At the inauguration, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Metroferry Marine Services Limited, Mr. Uyi Giwa-Osagie had commended the government for providing the opportunity of Public Private Participation (PPP) which had enabled the company to invest in the services.

According to him, about 1.5 million people who live in Ikorodu have depended on road transportation, which has been chaotic for many years. “However, the emergence of ferry service in the state will alleviate the suffering of the residents,” he said.

Giwa-Osagie said that the journey of four hours through vehicular traffic had since been reduced to 40 minutes, adding that the ferry service was a new conception of the present administration.

To Governor Fashola, the ferry service is a commitment of the present administration to deliver a multimodal mass transportation system that will raise the quality of life of the people of Lagos.

He stated that the government had signed into law the bill for the provision of multimodal mass transportation system which requires not only the use of water but also the roads and the rails.

“Multimodal mass transportation is something that this state has signed onto and it requires us to use not only God’s gift – water – but also the roads and the rails which by His grace we will soon deliver to Lagos,” the Governor said.

According to him, the efficiency of transportation or the lack of it could determine the quality of life that people live.
Fashola who traced the history of transportation from the early days of the use of camels, noted that man, to whom God gave dominion, had continued to reinvent himself so that he had over the years, reduced travel time from many days and weeks to just a few hours from one part of the world to the other.

Speaking on other reasons for multimodal mass transportation system, the governor said that the environment is being threatened and therefore transportation, housing, security and waste management solutions must be responsive to the demands of the environment.

“The whole world, including Lagos, is looking at mass transportation in a multimodal system to reduce the threat and the challenge of global warming and climate change. The challenge is how to take the greatest number of people with the fewest number of vehicles and therefore reduce carbon emission and protect our lives and also protect the environment,” the governor said.

Source:Nigerian Tribune


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