Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATN), Lagos State Chapter, has called on both Federal and Lagos State governments to embark on manufacturing standardised locally made boats.
Mr Ilori Akingbulu, Chairman of the association who made the appeal in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lagos said this would improve water transportation.
He said it is disheartening to note that Lagos State and Nigeria at large did not have a factory for boat making. “By now, Lagos State being the commercial hub in West Africa is supposed to have manufacturing companies for boat building. “Boat operators go extra miles to build boat for water transportation, which is not easy because of high exchange rate affecting imported materials,the government should discourage importation of boats, ferries from overseas and encourage locally made ones,’’
He added that if the government could grant local operators incentives in form of loans, it would go a long way in helping to produce standard boats that can compete favourably with foreign counterparts.
“We have capable hands who can build boat very well. Some of the operators have been building boat locally since 30 years,lack of incentives has affected the improvement of manufacturing standard boats. If government can support the operators diligently, it will help the growth of the industry,’’ he said.
Akingbulu said that the incentives could be soft loans, creating boat manufacturing companies, assemble plants and also creation of enabling environment for the industry to thrive. He stressed that the water sector was capable of generating huge revenue for the government and creating thousands of employment opportunity for people and urged the government to preserve the heritage on the waterways for tourists and research purposes.
“There were lots of potentials and investment opportunities on the waterways; if well utilised will earn government billions of naira,’’ He also called for police post/station along the coastal areas to combat sea pirates.
Akingbulu seeks for Private, Public Partnership between the state government and the private boat operators.
“Lagos State Government needs to strengthen more relationship with water transporters for the development of the sector and to carry the association along in their policy.
“Multiple taxation is affecting the growth of this industry, operators pay tax to Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), NIMASA and Local Government, which is not encouraging,’’ Akingbula appealed to Federal and State Governments to address the issue of multiple taxation and decide on who the operators will pay their taxes to in other to avoid this.