Demand for ferry services rises

Front view of the Ikorodu Ferry Terminal.
More Lagosians seek an alternative in ferry services one week after repair works started on some sections of the  Third Mainland Bridge, writes ADEMOLA OLONILUA of the punch.

There is an indication that residents of Lagos living in parts of the city badly affected by the closure of the Third Mainland Bridge on Sunday have found an alternative in water transportation.
SATURDAY PUNCH investigations during the week showed that since the closure of the bridge for repairs, the demand for ferry services in areas close to waterways in the state appear to have risen sharply.
At the jetty operated by the Metro Ferry Marine Services in Ikorodu, hundreds of passengers were seen waiting to be transported to their various destinations across the metropolis.
It was enough evidence that patronage at the water transport company has increased within the last few days.
A worker at the ferry station, Ibidun Oladimeji, told SATURDAY PUNCH that before the TMB closure, the company’s boats conveyed less than 300 passengers per day. Now, the figure has shot up to over 500.
Oladimeji noted that the waterways had an edge over road transportation because of the relative absence of traffic jams at sea, except on the few occasions when there were high tides.
He says, “Business has increased dramatically here since the Third Mainland Bridge was partially shut to traffic. Every day we convey more than 500 passengers and this is just the beginning. Normally, we conveyed below 300 passengers.
“Although it is a 25-minute ride, the current dictates the time we get to our destination. There is no traffic congestion on the waterways. When you move against the current, the speed of the boat drops lower than it should be when the sea is calm. You will experience a little delay when the sea is rough and that could take more than the estimated time. We are open from 6 am till 12 noon.”
He said that the Marine Service was aware that the crowd could only grow bigger and that they were ready to handle the passengers.
Olademeji says that the company has two different kinds of vessels and the fare varies, depending on the type of boat.
“We are aware that there would be more passengers. So, we are pro-active. We have everything here. For us, it is safety first and you have to adhere to our safety rules before you board our boat. You must have to put on your life jackets, we have fire extinguishers. We also have safety officers on stand-by.
“I do not think the personnel should be increased because we have more than enough hands to cater for the people that come here. We are prepared for the crowd. The fare varies, depending on the boat. For the big boat, a single boat ride ticket sells for N600; to and fro would cost a passenger N1,200. The smaller boat costs N400 per trip. The bigger one can convey 40 passengers at once while the other, a much small vessel, takes about 20 passengers per trip,” he adds.
A female passenger, May Dede, who resides in Ikorodu and works in Lagos Island, told SATURDAY PUNCH that the closure of the bridge had affected her business.
“I live in Ikorodu and do business at Falomo, Ikoyi. Since the government closed the Third Mainland Bridge, my business has not been doing well. Now, I have to think twice about whatever I have to do on the Island. It must really be important,” she says.
Another passenger said he was forced to board a ferry to his destination  because he had to inspect a project urgently. “We came to look at one of our project sites. Normally, I use the road but I decided to go through the water because it is faster,” he says.
Edet Akpan told SATURDAY PUNCH that although she was a bit scared of water, with the bridge shut, it was the fastest route to her work place.
Akpan says, “Although the journey to my office lasts 25 minutes from here, but it is longer by road. You are assured that there will be no traffic congestion, at least and the breeze is wonderful.”
Even commercial motorcycle operators are experiencing a boom as a result of the partial closure of the Third Mainland Bridge. A commercial motorcyclist in Ikorodu, known simply as Usman, said, “I take passengers from Ogolonto to the Ebute jetty for them to board a ferry to Lagos Island. Before the bridge was partialy closed, I used to wake up at 6 am or 6.30 am. Now, I have to wake up earlier because more passengers come here. If I don’t, I would not be able to maximise my profit. Some passengers even have my phone number. So, I pick them up wherever they are and take them to the terminal.”
Another motorcyclist named  Kenny agrees that business has never been so good in the area. He says that unlike before when they were at the mercies of passengers, the reverse is the case now.

Source: - The Punch

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