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We are scared of commuting on water, Lagosians cry out

Published by Tribune on Sun, 25 May 2014

Worried by the incessant spate of boat mishaps in Lagos State, some Lagosians have called on the state government to put in place, stiffer penalties for erring boat drivers who ferry people recklessly, not mindful of the safety of their passengers, while others have also expressed mixed reactions towards water transportation.Speaking with Inside Lagos, Adeleke Isaac, who lives in Ikorodu and works in Marina pointed out that starting from next week, he would rather go by road than risk his life.'Some of these boat operators do not provide life jackets for passengers despite the fact that it is mandatory. Even if they provide one, a nylon bag is better. I don't want to die a sudden death, so I will change my route,' he said.Another Lagosian, Ngozi Obike pointed out that with spate of the recent boat mishaps, she had vowed never to go by water again.'I don't know how to swim, so I don't want to risk my life. I am a good Christian but I believe that heaven helps those who help themselves,' she said.However, an Ikorodu-bound passenger from CMS, Sola Febisade, pointed out that although she had heard about boat mishaps, she was yet to witness one.'I don't think anything would happen here by the grace of God. Most of the residents of this area know how to swim. Even if anything happens, they would quickly come to our aid. There are some rituals that are done every year to ensure passengers are safe on this river,' she said.Another passenger, Sunday Odunlami, said the cost implication of providing life jackets for passengers could tell on the income of the operators.'These people collect between N50 and N100 for these trips across the river, do you think they would waste the money they collect on providing life jackets'' he said.A ferryman, Saliu Ibrahim, said he had no cause to worry about life jackets. 'God watches over us all. I was born into the job of ferrying people across this water. We have been safe ever since.'A passenger, Mr Chidozie Okoro, however said he preferred the ferry to driving to his office.'I don't have to worry about traffic congestion and it is relatively safe. I use the word 'relatively' because nothing is absolutely safe. At least, we all have life jackets. Apart from that, I know how to swim in case anything happens,' he saidA retired beach patrolman at CMS jetties, Mr Ade Ajayi, said some of the ferries plying the route were being operated by private companies in collaboration with the state government.'The safety measures put in place now are far better than what it used to be. At least I worked here for more than two decades. It used to be worse than this. Passengers then did not use life jackets, but it is mandatory now,' he said.
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