As the need to ease the traffic congestion in Lagos State grows stronger, the State Government is looking for alternate means of transportation to reduce the number of road users and therefore, minimize the impact of many vehicles on Lagos roads. Apart from the railway that is still under construction, the waterways have become a viable option to the roads.
The Lagos State has consequently purchased 5,000 drones to monitor activities in the waters and increase the safety of commuters who are embracing water transportation.
Boat accidents and lax rescue operation have been the bane of water transport growth. Last year alone, Lagos witnessed a number of boat mishaps that notably discouraged commuters from ferrying. A notable accident happened in Irewe community, claiming three lives while two others were declared missing.
The State Government is poised to eliminate all the stigma holding commuters back from using the waterways, and the drones have come in handy for effective surveillance that will facilitate fast emergency responses at every given time. With 5,000 drones, cases of avoidable accidents and deaths will be curtailed and more people will be encouraged to embrace the water transport system.
The State Government is currently enjoying the patronage of about 70,000 commuters daily and 1.5 million monthly, according to the director general of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Femi Oke-Osanyintolu. Femi explained that the drones have been connected to the State Command Control Center with Close Circuit Television Camera (CCTV) and mobile CCTV equipment to monitor activities in the waterways to ensure the safety of boat passengers.
He added that other equipment such as jet skis, ambulance and rescue boats have been purchased and added to LASEMA centers across the state to ensure effective safety operations. The development has been seen as nice gesture at a time when Lagos State is pushing through overwhelming traffic situation.
Lack of alternative to road transportation has been pointed as the major factor in traffic congestion in the state. With the newly acquired drones, commuters will be given a sense of security and assurance of rescue in the case of accident. And that will enable many to ply the waterways, reducing the numbers of vehicles on the roads.
Meanwhile, the State Government has been encouraged to apply drones for other security activities in the state, especially the pipelines. Two days ago, pipeline vandalism in Abule-Egba area of the state led to inferno that resulted in the death of many and loss of property. That isn’t the first time the people around pipeline areas experienced avoidable tragedy like that.
In December 2006, about 269 people were burnt to death when a ruptured pipeline busted into flames in Abule-Egba Lagos, several others were injured and properties worth millions of naira were destroyed. Most of the victims had gone to scoop fuel from the ruptured pipeline and consequently ignited fire that consumed them.
In July 2019, about two people lost their lives and properties were consumed when a pipeline fire gutted Abule-Egba area of Lagos. The incessancy of pipeline originated fire-tragedy has necessitated the call on Lagos State Government to explore other means of keeping people away from the pipelines.
The Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corp (NSCDC) in 2016, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Solid Minerals and Ministry of Interior, to protect all solid minerals sites in the country.
The NSCDC set up a department known as Solid Minerals Defenders, who were primarily saddled with the responsibility of safeguarding all mineral mining sites which includes pipelines.
The Solid Mineral Defenders have since then provided some measures of security around different mining sites across the country, and effected arrests of trespassers.
But so far, unrelenting cases of vandalism are indicating that the Solid Mineral Defenders need help. Deployment of drones will ensure 24 hours surveillance of the pipelines and effect quick emergence responses when necessary since it will use its aerial views to cover areas that may be difficult for human eyes to reach.