Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Quote:The Lagos State Government at the weekend officially took delivery of the prestigious Sunborn Yacht Hotel which it recently acquired.
The floating hotel is reputed to be one of the few major tourism innovations in the world. The 105-bedroom custom-built boat hotel moored at the Marina waterfront has become an exciting spectacle with many passers-by stopping to catch a glimpse or take photographs with their telephone devices.
Speaking while receiving the floating hotel facility, Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism and Inter-governmental Relations, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, described the transfer of the hotel to Lagos as a landmark achievement of Governor Babatunde Fashola administration meant to reposition Lagos as a tourism destination saying, “for Lagos, Africa and indeed the Middle East, this has now become the flagship and a project heralding the dawn of a new era in the Nigerian tourism sector.”
The obviously elated Senator Afikuyomi said the Yacht hotel would add value to Lagos Tourism sector being one of the very few floating hotels in the world thereby putting Lagos in the league of cities like New York, Barcelona, Paris and Finland and ahead of cities like Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha which are said to be at various stages of setting up similar floating hotels.
Senator Afikuyomi also credited the speed and success of the acquisition to the healthy relationship between the Lagos State administration and the organized private sector in the state saying, “though this is a fully funded private sector initiative only facilitated by the State government to achieve the set objectives of the administration for the development of tourism in the state, it is on record as one of the quickest PPP transactions prosecuted to fruition in less than one year from conception. This is a credit to the vision and drive of the leadership of Governor Babatunde Fashola and the team spirit that exists in the Lagos State Executive Council”.
Speaking further on the Sunborn Yacht Hotel voted ‘Best Hotel’ in the Food and Drinks Categories in the United Kingdom for 2005 and 2006 respectively, the Minister of State for Tourism and Culture, Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong commended the vision of the Lagos State administration in embarking on the project saying, “this is a breakthrough for tourism in Nigeria and generally for the whole of Africa, because we were made to understand that this is in fact the first of this type of innovation in the hospitality industry in the whole of Africa. History has been made today. This is a landmark achievement that I am very proud to associate myself with.”
Dr. Hong further assured of the Federal government support for the project. He said: “We are very proud of this achievement because it will provide opportunities for so many Nigerians. It will also provide a destination that will power and promote tourism in Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole. On the part of the Federal Government, we are fully in support of Lagos State and its private sector partners towards realizing this very great achievement.”
The Minister further explained the degree of involvement of the Federal government saying, “though the federal government is not a part of the investment process, we are ready to give more of our support to the management team, Lagos State Government and whoever is involved. Our major excitement at the Federal level about this innovation is that, more than 400 to 500 Nigerians will have direct employment as a result of this large hotel facility and more than 1000 Nigerians will have direct benefit from purchase and supply.”
Custom-built in 1999 and refitted in the year 2002, the Sunborn Yacht Hotel combines contemporary class and comfort being 18.4m wide, 106.5m in length and 17.6m in height from the sea level. The edifice with a total of six decks and an interior space of approximately 5000 sq.m will provide a breathtaking ambience for corporate guests, conference delegates, wedding parties and leisure guests to hold their exclusive events. The Lagos Yacht hotel presently boasts of such facilities such as conference halls, restaurants, meeting rooms, spas, saunas and lounges.
Quote:Published: Wednesday, 1 Oct 2008
In a bid to surmount the intractable traffic congestion on the Lagos highways, the state government is determined to develop ferry services system in the state.
This measure is to serve as an alternative means of public transportation for commuters.
During the Lateef Jakande administration between 1979 and 1983, two notable boats, Baba Kekere and Ita Faji, were popular among Lagosians.
An on-line information obtained on the website of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, said a feasibility study of the development of ferry services in the state, being conducted by a firm, Royal Haskoning Limited, was underway.
It is meant to achieve the development and implementation of strategic plans for improving the use of waterways of metropolitan Lagos for transport services.
Already, two new jetties at Agboyi-Ketu in Kosofe Local Government Area and Ijegun Egba in Oriade Local Council Development Area of Amuwo-Odofin LGA have been constructed in addition to the existing ones in the state.
LAMATA claimed that it had also engaged a contractor to rehabilitate the Epeme and Iya-Afin jetties, both in Badagry LGA.
The dredging and channelisation of Ikorodu waterfront and the Lagos lagoon have also begun; and seven main routes have been identified for development.
Out of these, however, three routes and the Marina terminal have been earmarked as priority and provision of water transportation enhancement services.
The priority routes are: Ikorodu-Marina (North Direct line); Ojo-Marina via Satellite Town (West line); and Ijede-Badore via Lekki and Falomo-Marina (East line).
This will facilitate water transportation along Ipakodo-Ibeshe, Oworonsoki-CMS and Badore-Ijede route, to complement road transport, especially along the 22-kilometre Ikorodu Bus Rapid Transit corridor.
According to LAMATA, “there is also a plan to develop Osborne and turn it into a major terminal interchange in future.
A latest on-line newsletter of TradeInvestNigeria quoted the Commissioner for Transportation, Prof. Bamidele Badejo, as saying that “there are over 60 jetties that need to be developed and we are currently working on about only six, which means that there are a lot of openings for investors in ferry operations. There is need to develop more terminals and jetties.”
Badejo therefore called for public private partnerships in the operation of water transportation in the state. He said some operators had already been contacted and in no too distant date, water transportation would be enjoyed in the state.
The commissioner repeatedly says that Lagos city, with a population of about 17 million, cannot survive on one mode of transportation, hence the need to develop other means of transportation.
While this gesture appeared to be a challenge to the extreme congestion on the highways, the state government has been charged to provide adequate facilities capable of mitigating disaster on the waterways.
A management consultant, Mr. Remi Olagunju, said it was necessary for the state government to put measures in place to respond promptly to emergencies and turbulence on the high seas.
According to him, “ferry service is a good investment and reliable means of means of transportation. But the government should look into the aspects of safety and security of passengers, the seaworthiness of the ferries plying the waterways, communication gadgets, and coping with emergencies.”
Olagunju said the state government should also regulate the number of passengers each ferry could carry, urging would-be investors to abide by the regulations prescribed by the state water inland authority from time to time.
Yet, there a few others who did not readily applaud the operation of ferry services because of their phobia for the waterways.
An artisan, Mr. Adebayo Yusuf, said he disliked boarding the ferry because of his inability to swim. A dealer in computer accessories, Mrs. Mosun Olusola, spoke in similar vein, saying she would rather trek long distance in the absence of “commercial buses and Okada operators,” instead of boarding the ferry.
LAMATA has, however, allayed the fears expressed by these residents. The authority has assured that water transportation remains a safer mode of public transportation.
It maintained that “water transportation is a realistic and potentially effective option, given that Lagos is blessed with abundant water bodies that could be harnessed to offer fast, safe, comfortable and cheaper water transportation services.”
As the state government is opening its waterways for transport services, it is expected that shrewd businessmen would take advantage of massive urbanisation and endless rural-urban drift to Lagos to invest in ferry services in the state.
By so doing, such investors would be assisting in tackling one of the challenges of population explosion in the state.