History was made in Brisbane, Queensland in Australia on Thursday as Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) pushed ahead with another electoral promise of accelerating inter-modal transportation through the extensive use of the State’s waterways when he witnessed the signing of the Ferry Manufacturing Agreement for the State between Aluminium Boats Company of Brisbane, Australia and a consortium of water transportation practitioners, Eko Water Buses Limited.
The Agreement signing event which was preceded by an inspection and a ride on one of the prototype ferries, being manufactured for the State, by Governor Fashola and his entourage is for the initial batch of 60 ferries each with a 200 passenger capacity to be deployed on various routes.
These ferries are like the water buses because of their passenger carrying capacity.
The inspection and Agreement signing followed a recent Memorandum of Understanding between the Lagos State Government represented by the Private Public Partnerships Office and the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) and the consortium, Eko Water Buses Limited which aims to deploy one ferry for a pilot scheme by July this year. According to the Agreement and production schedule, five more of the purpose built and fully fitted high capacity ferries will be deployed by December this year making a total of six.
However in the near term and as part of the positive spin offs from the Agreement, about 50 Nigerians will benefit from a comprehensive training programme in Marine Operations, Boat Services and Repairs in the expansive boat building facility of Aluminium Boats Company in Brisbane, Queensland ,Australia as a prelude to the full commencement of the ferry services operations in December.
Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and his entourage were received in Brisbane, Queensland by a representative of the Premier of Queensland, the Treasurer and Minister for Trade, Mr Tim Nicholls, the top management of Aluminium Boats Company of Australia including its Chief Executive Officer, Mr Stuart Pascoe and General Manager, Mr Tommy Ericson as well as representatives of the consortium, Eko Water Buses Limited led by its Chief Operating Officer,Mr Muyiwa Omololu and their technical partners including Mr John Waterhouse and Captain Elgin Mckilop.
Also on hand to meet with the Governor and his entourage which included the Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Private Partnerships, Mr Ayo Gbeleyi and Managing Director of the Lagos State Waterways Authority ( LASWA),Mr Yinka Marinho were representatives of international financial institutions backing the landmark project including Westpac lnstitutional Bank of Brisbane, Commercial Banking of Australia and the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation ( EFIC).
Apart from a test ride on the prototype of the ferry demonstrating its versatility, durability and safety features, the Governor and his entourage also undertook an extensive tour of the company’s boat yard during which he inspected one of the boats being built for the Lagos operations.
The major private sector partners of this project which will provide a great boost to safe and secure water transportation in Lagos State as an integral part of the inter-modal transportation which also includes the Bus Rapid Transit system and the light rail project ,Eko Water Buses Limited is a consortium of world class ferry operators. It includes Western Pacific Maritime based in Vancouver, Canada, the Eliot Bay Design Group and other technical partners like Transit Systems of Australia and Whitewater Marine Corporation of Canada.