Lagos looks to the water to beat traffic gridlock (Guardian)

Lagos looks to the water to beat traffic gridlock (Guardian)

Idris Anjorin believes his life changed in 2009 when he turned up for work — late as usual — distracted and stressed after more than three hours stuck in Lagos traffic.

“I wasn’t happy I came late again. A coworker who noticed my mood advised me to try a boat ride,” the retired banker told AFP.

“The next day, I arrived at Bayeku jetty at 6:00 am and within an hour I had made it to the office. That was a turning point in my life.”

Bayeku is one of several ferry terminals run by private boat operators in the Ikorodu area of Lagos, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) by road to Anjorin’s old office on Victoria Island.

Making a 20-minute boat trip across the lagoon seems an obvious way to avoid the monster traffic jams for which Nigeria’s biggest city and commercial hub is famous.

But for a variety of reasons — from the safety of boats to funding and infrastructure — the sector has not been developed to its full potential.

Now, Lagos state governor Akinwunmi Ambode wants to change that and introduce water taxis as part of an integrated transport system to unclog the city’s roads.

“Twenty-five percent of Lagos is water and it is important that we put in the right initiatives that can actually make activities on our waterways thrive,” Ambode said recently.

The state government said the “grand plan” was “to divert at least two million passengers on the waterways daily, thereby reducing traffic on the road”.

Seven new ferries are set to be bought in the coming months; support will be given to 70 private firms running boat services; and 10 new operators are to be licensed.

Thirty routes are being identified for dredging while 10 new jetties are being built. Read more

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