•Governor inaugurates Search and Rescue Unit, hands over surveillance devices for emergency response

•‘We’ve reduced mishaps from 19 to two’

Commuters using Lagos State’s water transport services are in for a fresh safety experience, with the activation of modern monitoring gadgets and infrastructure to enhance security across the State’s waterways transportation network.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Friday, commissioned the newly installed Waterways Monitoring and Data Management Centre (WMDMC) at the Five Cowrie Terminal – the headquarters of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) in Falomo, Ikoyi.

The Data Management Centre, which is first of its kind in the country, is a centralised monitoring base for all activities on the Lagos waterway. By the technology, LASWA is now empowered to generate real-time information, enhance safety and gather data for continuous improvement of the inland waterways.

The Governor also unveiled advanced DJI Aerial Drone for surface surveillance and BlueEye Pro drone for underwater search and rescue operations. He handed over units of automatic U-SAFE rescuing gadgets for emergency evacuation.

Sanwo-Olu, at the event well attended by private operators, inaugurated LASWA Search and Rescue Unit (SAR), which will be responsible for patrolling and enforcing the State’s waterways rules and regulation.

The Governor said the development further demonstrated his administration’s commitment towards improving mobility through multimodal transportation system and create affordable transit options for the residents.

Sanwo-Olu maintained that Traffic Management and Transportation remained the key component of his Government’s economic development plan, stressing that waterways transport had enjoyed special attention in the last three years because of the need to link it with existing rail and road transportation networks.

He said: “In the last three and half years, our administration has invested massively in waterways infrastructure and assets to deliberately encourage and promote water transportation in Lagos. Our gathering today is to further deepen our commitment to have a safe and secure ferry operation on our waterways. We are commissioning a big command and control centre specifically established to monitor and protect our waterways.

“We are inaugurating the newly created Search and Rescue Unit that will be patrolling and enforcing our waterways rules and regulation. We are handing over two additional patrol boats and safety enhancements. We are also launching advanced D.J.I. Aerial Drone, BlueEye Pro drone for underwater searches, and U-SAFE rescuing gadgets.

“These gadgets are acquired and installed to consolidate our efforts in making our waterways safer for its users and making monitoring activities seamless. It also demonstrates our unparalleled commitment to providing a viable alternative transport solution that will complement other modes. This is the investment we will continue to make, in addition to building additional jetties. In the coming weeks, we will be commissioning eight newly built jetties out of the 15 we are currently building.”

Sanwo-Olu said Lagos had not only been a responsible regulator in the waterways transportation sector, he said the State had been the leading player in ferry operations across established routes to raise interest of passengers and make the mode of transportation viable for investors.

With over 20 units of high and medium-capacity boats in its fleet, the Governor disclosed that Lagos State Ferry Services (LAGFERRY) transported over 1.1 million passengers since February 2020 when it commenced commercial operations with recording accident.

All passengers on board of the LAGFERRY boats are placed on life insurance coverage throughout the length of their journey.

Sanwo-Olu said: “We have invested so much in LASWA that today, we are beginning to see the effects. Over the past three years, daily commuter ridership has increased to 43,000 passengers and over 1.4 million passengers yearly. There has also been a visible reduction in boat mishaps achieved through our massive intervention in safety equipment and donations of free lifejackets across the 15 Local Government Areas accessible by water.”

Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladehinde, said the installed technology was deployed with the objective to solve economic issues associated with mobility delays and improve reliability on water transportation.

He said study showed waterways transportation remained the safest if necessary safety measures were in place. He encouraged Lagosians to use the waterways for improved mobility and decongestion of road traffic.

LASWA General Manager, Damilola Emmanuel, said digitising the inland waterways operations through the setting up of the command centre would enable the regulatory agency to have intelligent vessel tracking and monitoring along operating routes.

He said: “This is another milestone delivered through the administration’s T.H.E.M.E.S. agenda. The WMDMC has a multi-sensor, multi-layer continuous surveillance with fully integrated fusion. It can detect and track any vessel of any size. It can identify all boats, automatically monitor vessel activities and send alerts on any illegal or suspicious behaviour.

“The centre can generate digitised information files available on any vessel containing the entire history, ownership, and licensing. It is equipped with an integrated and automated system integrated with alerts to enable efficient operator handling of events. It also allows field operators to check and verify vessel identities and pass to external parties.”

Executive Assistant to the Governor on Maritime Matters, Prince Yomi Sopitan, who is the brain behind the Data Management Centre, said the innovation had raised surveillance capability of the State on waterways and addressed safety concerns.

Sopitan said Sanwo-Olu became the first Governor to undertake a complete study, survey and marking of the State’s inland waterways, which led to the removal of impediments on the established routes.

“Prior to installation of advanced technology gadgets, private boat operators in Lagos used to record an average of 19 water accidents yearly. The State recorded only two major water accidents in the year, testifying to improvements we have achieved in the last two years,” Sopitan said.



Developing public transport by water to reduce road congestion and adapt the transport system to the impacts of climate change in Lagos megacity is an ambitious bet that Lagos State and the French Development Agency (AFD) are making.

On Thursday, 27th of October, the official kick-off meeting of the “Waterways Investment and Development of the Environment project in Lagos State” (WIDE-LAG) took place at the premises of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), in the presence of Lagos State authorities, the Consule General of France in Lagos, AFD Country Director and a team of transport experts from the AFD.

The objective was to inform stakeholders about the project concept, expected outputs, and timeline, conduct site visits with the different teams of consultants, and launch the project preparatory studies financed by a EUR 1.2 M grant from AFD and the European Union.

While the aqueous surface of Lagos State accounts for 22% of its total landmass, and more than 60% is land surface less than 5m above sea level, inland waterways transportation is expected to play an increasing role in adaptation to climate change.

Using the lagoon area, the WIDE-LAG project will implement a mass public inland waterways transit (IWT) system in Lagos State. The project scope will include the development of 5 to 8 priority ferry routes providing facilities such as ferry terminals, first mile/last mile land connections, jetties, pontoons, and shipyard for vessel maintenance and dredging of critical areas. It will also include the acquisition of clean-powered vessels and Information Transport Systems (ITS).
“Due to demographic growth, land constraints, traffic congestion, sea level rise and land subsidence,

AFD reckons that public Inland Waterways Transit is relevant, sustainable and is meant to play an increasing role as a complement to the Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail Transit”, stated Xavier Muron, AFD Country Director. “This ambitious project will make Lagos an international benchmark for Inland Waterways Transit, championing with other cities like Bangkok, San Francisco or Sydney.”

Based on the design studies to be completed in the first half of 2023, AFD will be able to award the funds to Lagos State for this project, which has a total targeted amount of 200 M EUR. The project will capitalize on the Future Cities of Nigeria (FCN) program that has provided technical assistance to LASWA and identified private sector interests for IWT. As a public-driven project, WIDE-LAG will contribute to creating the conditions of an enabling environment, strengthening the waterways regulation, and providing critical infrastructures to attract private investors through PPPs.

“Water is a defining features of Lagos”, said Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, General Manager, LASWA. “While it is seen as a challenge today, it should rather be envisioned as an asset for the economic and sustainable development of Lagos State. I am pleased to embark on this ambitious investment to make Lagos Africa’s Model Mega City through an attractive, innovative and efficient mode of transportation.”

The WIDE-LAG project implemented by LASWA with the support of AFD is an ambitious program that fits into the Lagos State Development Plan (LSDP) (2022-2052) released at the Ehingbeti Summit earlier in October. The LSDP aims to create a flexible, sustainable, and efficient Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) by 2052, increasing the modal share of IWT from 1% to 10% in the total daily trips. The project is also in line with the Lagos State Climate Action Plan (2020-2025) approach, which aims to adapt the mobility patterns to the sea level rise and land subsidence phenomena by moving people and goods by water.

This ambitious program will put Lagos State at the forefront of mobility innovation in Africa, setting the path for other western African countries sharing the same geographical configuration.



The Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA has installed a floating pontoon to aid smooth operations of passenger ferries at the Anuoluwapo Seafood Market situated along the shoreline of the Lagos Inland waterways near Law School Bus stop, Victoria Island Lagos.

The shoreline market, which also serves as landing points (loading & disembarking of passengers) for ferries plying the Ikorodu – Lekki – Victoria Island routes, was unsafe for standard ferry operations.

The new floating jetty will aid smooth navigation for ferries, safe boarding and disembarkment for passengers, and improve commercial activities at the market; among other benefits, the jetty is now open for all waterways users, and it’s safe for public use. Similar installation is underway at Ibasa community.



Inter-agency collaboration is one of the many ways in which the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda has had great success under Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s leadership. Promoting a dynamic working relationship between M.D.A.s and other agencies has led to improving outcomes and achieving desired goals from the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda.

LASWA is one of the many agencies that has made these collaborative efforts to achieve its goal of making the inland waterways more sustainable and prosperous for all its users. LASWA has integrated with many other agencies such as Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency (DSVA), and a host of others; together achieving the full range of multiple missions.

All collaborations have been knowledge-centric, creating enabled and quick decisions, reducing operational risk, and general effectiveness of joint agency’s operations.