In October 2022, the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) and the French Development Agency (AFD) - with additional funding from the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA) - announced preparatory studies aimed at setting up a world-class public inland waterways transit system in Lagos State as part of the Waterways Investment and Development of the Environment in Lagos State project (WIDE-LAG).
Using the lagoon area, the WIDE-LAG project is expected to implement a mass public inland waterway transit (IWT) system in Lagos State. The project scope will include the development of 5 priority ferry routes providing facilities such as ferry terminals, first mile/last mile land connections, jetties, pontoons, and shipyards for vessel maintenance and dredging of critical areas. It will also include the acquisition of clean-powered vessels and Information Transport Systems (ITS). This is a major step forward in building climate resilience in Lagos State by developing sustainable urban infrastructure.
The official kick-off meeting took place at the premises of LASWA in the presence of Lagos State authorities, the Consul General of France in Lagos, AFD’s Country Director and its team of transport experts. Aside from the launch of the preparatory studies, the objective of the meeting was to inform stakeholders about the project concept, expected outputs and timelines and to conduct site visits with teams of consultants.
Lagos State has been a CoM SSA member since 2015, and as such has access to project support provided by the covenant. More specifically, CoM SSA, through its mandate of helping projects reach bankability is sponsoring a EUR 700,000 grant as part of the project’s feasibility study. The rest of the studies are financed by CoM SSA’s implementing partner in Lagos, AFD. In particular, the CoM SSA grant is funding the engineering and costing studies that will analyze 5 ferry routes to assess travel demand, navigability conditions and carry out the preliminary engineering design to 5 priority ferry routes.
“Based on the design studies to be completed in the first half of 2023, AFD will be able to award the funds to Lagos State for this project, which has a total targeted amount of EUR 200 to 250 million,” said AFD Country director, Xavier Muron. Adding that: “As a public-driven project, WIDE-LAG will contribute to creating the conditions of an enabling environment, strengthening the waterways regulation, and providing critical infrastructures to unlock private sector participation in the sector.”
While the aqueous surface of Lagos State only accounts for 22% of its total landmass and more than 60% is land surface less than 5m above sea level, inland waterways transportation is expected to play an increasing role as a mode of transport.
Speaking during the meeting, LASWA General Manager, Oluwadamilola Emmanuel stated that, “Water is a defining feature of Lagos. While it is seen as a challenge today, it should rather be envisioned as an asset for the economic and sustainable development of Lagos State. I am pleased to embark on this ambitious investment to make Lagos Africa’s Model Mega City through an attractive, innovative, safe and efficient mode of transportation.”
The WIDE-LAG project implemented by LASWA, with the support of AFD and the EU, is an ambitious program that fits into the Lagos State Development Plan (LSDP) (2022-2052). The LSDP aims to create a flexible, sustainable, and efficient Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) by 2052, increasing the modal share of IWT from 1% to 10% in the total daily trips. The project is also in line with the Lagos State Climate Action Plan (2020-2025) approach, which aims to adapt the mobility patterns to the sea level rise and land subsidence phenomena by moving people and goods by water.
“This ambitious program is expected to put Lagos State at the forefront of mobility innovation in Africa, and CoM SSA can act as a megaphone to showcase the experience of Lagos to other African countries sharing the same geographical configuration,” affirmed Silvia Puddu, CoM SSA coordinator at AFD. Following the official kick-off meeting which took place in October 2022, the first half of 2023 is dedicated to completing the design studies of the project which is estimated to be finalised with a dedicated workshop in June.