by Alli Mustapha
Nine days ago, exactly February 4, 2020, Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu launched the Lagferry service in Badore, Ajah, commissioning six different capacity speedboats that would ply about six routes. A lot was said about how much of a relief the ferry would be to Lagosians in distress of the Okada ban. But the question is, has it been a relief? Is the service worth trying or trusting? Is it safe?
Safety is the most important thing when it comes to transportation. And yes, the Lagferry guarantees that. First thing you would get after getting your ticket in the terminal waiting area is a new orange lifejacket.
From my experience, I would say it is a bit suffocating, as I felt intense heat when I put it on; but it did look like what can keep one above the water for days in times of emergency. Would that be the only safety measure provided?
The Lagferry is spacious, organized, and has a good toilet. Also, there is Wi-Fi, just that it is secured. And when you ask for the Wi-Fi password from the crew member, he might tell you he doesn’t know. Typical Lagos, right?
“This is my first time boarding this boat. I have heard the journey would be about one hour, unlike the private ferries that take only 30 to 35 minutes to get to my destination,” explained Mr. Victor, a commuter who boards the ferry daily to his place of work on the island from Ikorodu.
It was meant to be a speedboat like its name clearly spells out. On the contrary, it was a slow boat. So slow that all the passengers on boat, including me, kept checking time and hoped for a refund. It’s a wide belief that in Lagos, sea transportation is faster. This is not the case here. It took exactly 1hour 10mins to get to Ebute Ero from Ebute in Ikorodu. This observation would leave commuters with two choices; patronize the lag ferry that promises safety and comfort or go with the private ones that guarantees speed and swiftness.
When the Lagferry was launched, there were public opinions about it being one of the solutions to the Okada ban, and that sooner or later, Lagosians would forget about the ban, and move on. Well according to Mr Victor, he said: “Even in the years to come, I can’t say if people would forget about the Okada ban. If only the government provides a workable solution, maybe. But presently, no.”
Another commuter who said; “That one you go don know how far by now” when asked of his most preferred service between the Lagferry service and other ones, expressed sarcastically and in pidgin English, how terrible moving via the old boats was for him. With Lagferry, you don’t feel the sea bumps. So, the risk of having hypertension while your boat is on motion is a non-existence fear.
Candidly speaking, the Lagos state government has done well by providing this ferry service, but there is still a lot to be done. Firstly, more fast boats, more routes, and more terminals should be provided. All other safety measures asides life jackets should be prioritized too. Then, public relations and education about the service offerings, needs to be intensified.
Finally, I think the Lagos State Government can do better than the current fare. There should be an obvious difference between what the private ferries charge and the Lagferry.