France’s Minister for Foreign Trade, Economic Attractiveness, and French Nationals Abroad, Olivier Becht, has expressed satisfaction with the level of support France is giving to the Lagos State Government in its effort to tackle urban transportation challenges through the new inland waterways transport initiative, ‘OMI EKO’.
Becht, who stated this on Thursday, during a session organized on the occasion of his visit to Lagos from November 23-24, 2023, said, “Beyond its positive impact on mobility, the OMI EKO project is anticipated to generate a host of economic opportunities.”
He emphasised that “France as a pioneer in sustainable urban development, brings a wealth of expertise and experience. French businesses, renowned for their cutting-edge technologies and sustainable practices, are ready to play a pivotal role in the implementation of this project. This initiative also signifies the shared commitment between France and Nigeria to build resilient cities.”
Over the past 12 years, France, through the French Development Agency (AFD), has invested $700 million in the development of Lagos State including $350 million to develop the Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS). This has contributed to reducing travel time and travel costs for millions of Lagosians and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The OMI EKO project is the new initiative blossomed by the Lagos State-AFD partnership, with the support of the European Union. The project’s objective is to develop mass public Inland Waterways Transport in Lagos to transport 24 million commuters by waterways every year. The project will significantly reduce travel costs, and allow great travel time savings and large reduction of CO² emissions.
It will include the development of 15 ferry routes covering a total length of 140km and the upgrade of 25 ferry terminals and jetties. Lagos will also deploy the first electric vessels in Sub-Saharan Africa, being at the forefront of innovation. The project is being implemented by the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) and could run from 2024-2029.
The session started at the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) headquarters in the presence of the Lagos State Commissioner for Transports, Oluwaseun Osiyemi, and Lagos State Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Mosopefolu George, with a deep-dive discussion on urban mobility issues in Lagos, the great potential of inland waterways transportation through the OMI EKO project as well as the economic opportunities that will arise from the implementation of the project.
A set of French companies expressing interest in the Omi Eko project was introduced, covering various services from vessel design and construction, to navigational aids and engineering studies.
The delegation then embarked on a boat trip around Lagos Island to see major infrastructures to be delivered under the OMI EKO project as well as another key project supported by France, the Lagos State Strategic Transport Master Plan (LSTMP) project.
On the boat trip, the Minister could see the Marina interchange hub to be developed under LSTMP, which aims to enhance access to the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, as well as ferry terminals to be upgraded by 2028 under the OMI EKO project at Ebute Ero, Flour Mills and Falomo.
In Lagos, 20% of carbon dioxide emissions are generated by the transport sector. With an estimated 22 million inhabitants today, Lagos’ population is expected to grow up to 40 million by 2040. The Minister has congratulated Lagos State for its past and future achievements and has assured the State of France’s long-term support in this field.
Source: The Will