Boating can be encouraged by friendly government policies
Afeez Lateef is the COO at Texas Connection Ferries. He tells BLESSING ENENAITE about his boating experience and other issues
What services offered by your company?
We are in water transport. Our services include boat shuttles, boat rentals for businesses and individuals, boat accommodation and mooring, boat refueling, sale of boat engines and accessories, and advice.
How long have you been boating?
I have more than 10 years of experience in water sports.
How would you describe your experience so far?
It has been both adventurous and exhilarating.
What made you decide to start boating?
I’ve always had a passion for it so I decided to explore this passion.
What are your most memorable moments on a boat?
My memorable moments on a boat include the first outing I had when we took a fishing boat out to sea.
Have you experienced scary times on a boat?
It would be the day I traveled on the water on a banana boat (flying boat) under the bridge that connects Ikoyi and Victoria Island. The strong waves overwhelmed the boat’s engine and nearly slammed the boat against the bridge pillar.
It has been said that boating is quite risky. What is your opinion on this?
In fact, I think it is the safest form of transportation. Accidents on the water are not common unlike on the roads.
Did you experience an event that made you want to quit?
No I do not have.
What are some common safety tips you’ve learned over the years?
They include ensuring that life jackets are properly worn before, during and after boarding a boat. In addition, do not smoke on board, remain seated when the vessel is underway, avoid wet or oily soils, discourage the wearing of high heels or slippers before or after boarding.
What are the challenges of boating?
The challenges include inadequate safety on our waterways, lack of infrastructure such as jetties, a paved access road to the jetty, navigation buoys, lighting and gas stations. In addition, the lack of canalization of waterways, dirt in waterways, debris and wrecks, reckless activities of dredgers, fishermen and log carriers are great challenges for efficient navigation, especially in the area. ‘Lagos State.
How do you deal with difficult customers?
We have never had a difficult customer. We have standard rules of engagement and disengagement.
How to encourage boating in Nigeria?
It can be encouraged by favorable government policies, such as removing all bottlenecks in registration and licensing. In addition, the elimination of multiple taxation, the promotion of healthy competition between operators by providing a favorable business environment would go a long way to help. The political will to develop river transport must be a priority. Allocation of routes and concession of terminals should be based on merit and not on political influence.
In what ways can boating be used to boost tourism?
This can be done by hosting boating festivals, fishing festivals, and improving infrastructure on beaches and historic event centers. A few years ago we had the Regatta Game Festival organized by the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism and Culture.
Do boaters have an association?
We have many associations, but the most important one is called the Association of Tourist Boat and Water Transport Operators of Nigeria. Their main duty is to protect the interests of their members.
How many boats does your company have?
We have more than 12 boats.
If you weren’t a boater, what would you have become?
I would have become a journalist.
What is the most important item to take on the boat?
There are several, including life jackets, fire extinguishers, paddle, anchor, compass, flashlight, knife, bucket, mooring ropes (lines) and hand flares.
It has been said that boating is for the rich. Do you agree?
I do not agree. Boating is for everyone. However, yachts are reserved for the wealthy because of their price.
Some people have a boating phobia. In what ways do you think their fears can be allayed?
People’s fears can be allayed by observing appropriate safety precautions and knowing what to do during distress and emergency situations.
In what areas can the government support boaters?
This can be achieved by putting in place good and friendly government policies, proper regulation and enforcement, channeling and mapping of roads, providing grants / loans to boaters, providing infrastructure for boaters. and riders, cleaning up waterways and freeing them from wrecks and reckless dredging activities. To top it off, there should be proper implementation of the local content law.
What are your plans for this holiday season?
In the past, we organized cruises during the holiday season but since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have decided to put an end to them until further notice.
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