Boat operators at the Tarzan Jetty in Ijede, a suburb of Ikorodu, have resumed work after a boat mishap which claimed seven lives on Jan. 30 in the area.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ill-fated boat, operated by Aki Marine, was said to be conveying 17 passengers when the incident occurred.
Boat operators at the jetty had suspended boat services following the incident, as a mark of respect to the victims.
The boat, which was heading for Badore in Ajah from Ijede Town, was said to have hit a heap of sand during the trip.
Mr Hakeem Balogun, the Operations Manager of Aki Marine, told NAN on Monday in Ijede, Ikorodu that partial boat services had resumed.
He said: “Although, other operators resumed a week after the incident, I resumed just last Monday because the incident really shook me.
“Our customers should be rest assured that our boat services to all routes, especially Ikorodu to Victoria Island, will resume before the end of April.”
“It has taken us this long to resume because we needed some time to pull ourselves together."
According to him, the incident has not diminished the number of passengers conveyed daily in the axis.
“As a matter of fact, I was warmly surprised to see three of the survivors at the jetty on the day we resumed operations.
“So, people need to understand that water transportation remains the safest means of transportation in the world.
Balogun, who added that the incident was the first in his over three decades of offering boat services, said he was shocked by the casualty figure.
“I had been contemplating pulling out of the business altogether because of the challenges; so when it happened, it was as though that was the last straw.
“It took the intervention of friends and customers to talk me out of it; and the fact that disasters still occur in the aviation industry, no matter how tightly regulated.”
He, therefore, assured patrons of safer waterways, saying that, “the sand dredgers have been at work since the incident occurred, evacuating the filth.
“So, it is no longer noticeable and we have been operating without any problem.”
He, however, added that the company would stop at nothing to ensure families of all those involved in the incident were compensated.
“We are still waiting for the insurance company to complete its investigations and documentation, after which the victims’ families would be compensated.’’
He, therefore, praised the survivors for their courage and promised to observe all necessary measures to guarantee passenger safety.
Meanwhile, when NAN visited the jetty on Wednesday, regular boat operations were in progress, as some passengers were seated at the lounge.
Some passengers who spoke to NAN, urged government to support boat operators, to enable them to be able to meet the needs of the public.
Mrs Olabisi Oaltunji, an entrepreneur, said, “appropriate government agencies should put navigational signs on the waterways and monitor dredging activities along those channels.
“It is not enough to occasionally distribute safety jackets to these operators; they (the government) need to engage them, in order to know where the shoe pinches and meet those needs.
Another passenger, Mr Solomon Okoli, who had travelled by boat for more than two years, advised government to embark on a state-wide enlightenment campaign, to encourage people to travel by water.
“If they did, it would not only restore confidence, but also attract many first time travellers, and ultimately the sector would grow.
“They (government) should realise that to attain a `Mega City’ status cannot be complete without an effective transport system in the state,” Okoli, a property consultant, said. (NAN)