Lagos State Government yesterday said it had set up marine rescue units in the state to respond and rescue victims of boat mishaps and other water-related tragedies in the state. The government also assured residents and commuters using the state waterways of their safety, saying water transportation was now safer in Lagos with the procurement of rescue boats for emergency incidences on water. Speaking during the launch of Marine Rescue Unit of the agency, the Director- General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, said the state was leaving no stone unturned to ensure safety of residents, while commuting in any part of the state. He added that either commuting on the road or water, LASEMA would ensure safety of the commuters.
He said: “Three-quarter of Lagos State is made up of water body. We have efficient, effective waterway authority, but today we are opening our Marine Rescue Unit. “Our Sharks Base will be the headquarters of the Marine rescue unit of LASEMA while we will be operating from four jetties namely: Ikorodu, Ijegun-Egba, Ilaje- Bariga and Lekki. In Lagos, we have 26 jetties and five terminals and over 100 operators.
“We have over 70,000 commuters using the waterways daily while 1.5million people use our waterways monthly. Fifteen out of our 57 local government areas are accessible through the waterways. So, we want to ensure that our people travel through the waterways safely.
“Governor Sanwo-Olu has purchased sophisticated equipment. We now have rescue boat, ambulance boat to deploy to ensure that on our waterways are safe. “We have heavy-duty equipment and light duty equipment on top of waterways and roads to ensure safety of lives of over 20million estimated residents.” Beyond managing emergencies on the waterways, Osanyintolu also said the agencies had acquired drones to monitor happening on the waterways with a view to ensuring quicker response.
On his part, the General Manager, Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA, Mr. Damilola Emmanuel, described the unveiling of the rescue units as a welcome development in the water transportation sector. He said: “What you are seeing today is one of the key components of the enabling environment that will give passengers more confident to use the waterways. “We are going to be seeing better vessels this year while we will accommodate the existing operators and promote private operators. You are going to be seeing the patrol and rescue boats on the waterways. You are going to be seeing the upgrading of the infrastructure as well.” Emmanuel, however, described the development as a good thing for the waterways and the users, saying that the confidence of the people would be boosted.