Determined to find a viable alternative to help check the perennial problem road congestion along its roads, the Lagos State government is exploring the prospects of deploying hovercraft to boost its transportation system.
Hovercraft is an amphibious boat-like vehicle that can travel over water, sand and grass.
At the sea trial of a Hovercraft in Lagos on Friday, the General Manager, Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, said the new transportation system has the potential of helping promote the economic growth of the state.
The British Deputy High Commissioner, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, who witnessed the ceremony said Hovercraft can help improve the climate resilience of Lagos state, and contribute to sustainable and inclusive economic development in the city.
Mr Llewellyn-Jones said the decision of the state government to explore the prospects of using Hovercraft as part of its transportation system was in recognition of the urgency to tackle climate change by quickly reducing Carbon Dioxide emissions.
Griffon Hoverwork, a UK hovercraft design and manufacturing Company, carried out the demonstration exercise in Lagos, as part of the UK Government’s effort to enhance the waterways transportation system of the Lagos State Government.
“An enhanced and reliable water transport system will also reduce congestion on the roads, promote economic growth, and improve competition in the business environment as well as the overall operations in the State,” the company said.
“It will reduce travel time, improving connectivity between communities and hence provide access to critical services such as healthcare, education and employment,” the company added.
The British Embassy in Nigeria said the UK government, through its Future Cities Nigeria Programme, have been providing technical assistance to the Lagos State Government to enhance its water transport system.
The Embassy said its government would also help in improving the climate resilience of Lagos state, by offering a viable alternative to road transport, and provide an improved transport option for Lagos residents and visitors.
The Future Cities Nigeria Programme through the UK’s Prosperity Funds supports a range of strategic interventions in Nigeria, including Lagos and Abeokuta in Ogun State.
The Programme is addressing key barriers to prosperity through Urban Planning, by providing technical assistance for spatial restructuring; transportation, by providing technical assistance to develop integrated multi-modal public transport systems.
Besides, the programme would ensure resilience, by providing technical assistance to develop strategies to address the impact of climate change and ensure development was sustainable.
Mr Llewellyn-Jones said The UK Government was keen to assist the Lagos State Government in the area of water transportation, and urban development.
He said Griffon Hoverwork, a leading manufacturer of hovercrafts, has displayed the capabilities of a hovercraft as a means of reducing carbon emissions and road congestion and supporting growth in the water transport sector.
Lagos is reputed to be Africa’s largest city with lots of capacity, but relies excessively on road vehicles for transport, leading to long and expensive commutes and traffic delays.
“Through our Future Cities Nigeria programme, we are working with LASWA to develop water transport routes that reduce road traffic congestion, provide safer, cleaner, reduced cost transport and reduce CO2 emissions,” the British Deputy High Commissioner said.
“It’s great to see these plans start to become reality through this trial of a hovercraft on the Lagos waterways. This demonstrates the range of opportunities and potential for UK and other international businesses in this sector to benefit from the new transport routes,” he added.
The General Manager, Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, said the UK’s Global Future Cities Programme in partnership with the Lagos State Government was helping to expand the state’s waterways transport and improve the environment.
He said the Lagos waterways is a key resource to the state and the state government would continue to work with the UK Government to make water transportation a viable, reliable and alternative means of transport for the people of Lagos.
In collaboration with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the Nigerian Navy, the UK have used medical hovercrafts to reach the remote areas of Delta in South-South Nigeria and the North East, providing healthcare to underserved communities.