For several years, residents of riverine areas in Ojo, a suburb in Lagos State have had to contend with their worst fears.
Water transportation system, their major means of moving in and out of their vicinity was fast becoming a threat.
The shallowness of the water had made it practically impossible for boat operators in the area to move smoothly.
In some instances, the result is fatal.
A resident, Hazeez Sulaimon said the situation was one of their worst nightmares.
â€œIt was a difficult period for us. Boat operators in the area became apprehensive to ply the waters for fear of having their boat capsize.â€
One of the boat operators, Dada Sogbesan said their economic activities, especially fishing were hampered by the shallowness of the water while their boat propellers, engine and gear box were constantly damaged.
â€œWe have been complaining and begging the government to come and help us to dredge the water so that our boats can move freely. It is through water that we survive because that is our means of transportation and also survival for our women because most of them are fishermen.â€
But the state government has listened to the plight of the residents.
In September 2017, the channelisation of the Ebute-Ojo jetty to Marina began, covering two kilometres and a depth of about six metres of dredging.
The Ebute-Ojo jetty is one of the four commercial ferry routes out of the thirty already identified as part of activities to scale up water transportation and give a quantum leap to tourism and economic growth in the State.
According to the government, the four routes currently being channelised are 10km Ebute Ojo to Marina, 7km Bayeku to Ajah, 16km Ijede to Marina and 6km Ijede to Badore and would be followed with another two, while work on the remaining 24 would be implemented in phases within the next four years.
Managing Director of the state Waterways Authority (LASWA), Mr. Damilola Emmanuel, told THISDAY that the dredging exercise and channelisation was part of the ground plan to escalate water transportation and explore tourism potential of the inland waterways.
He said: â€œEssentially, what we are seeing is the ongoing channelisation which is creating road on water. Our intention is to make any boat or ferry sail freely on our waterways so they donâ€™t run into the issue of being grounded.
â€œThese routes being channelised are part of the thirty routes already identified by the state government. We are laying the ground work to make things easy for the ferries to travel safely. We are doing this to demonstrate our commitment to water transportation. Through this, we want tourists who travel to our state to be safe while travelling on our waterways.â€
The governmentâ€™s intervention has not gone unnoticed as normalcy has returned to the communities including Abule Oshun, Ijegun, Apapa riverine communities.
According to Sulaimon, â€œWe cannot thank government enough. They have brought joy to our hearts for we residents and also for the boat operators.Â Now we can move on boat anytime of the day without any fear.â€
â€œWe can now leave by 4a.m. or 5a.m. Before we have to wait for daylight before we can go our boat. Our fishermen are happy, business is doing better.â€
But the residents are hopeful that the state government will stretch the project to neighbouring communities including Ojo-Egbeda, Etegbin, Erewe-Osolu Kingdom and Iyagbin, a development they say if carried out will give their communities a new lease of life.