By Cliffsimeon Akanlonu
L-R: Ondo State Chairman, ATBOWATON; MD, Jemi-Alade Tours, Ladi Alade; National President, ATBOWATON, Gani Tarzan Balogun; the Father of Nigerian Tourism and former President of Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria (ATPN), Chief Mike Amachree; Former Miss Nigeria 1984 and IMO state Liaison Officer, Rosemary Okereke; Chairman, Lagos state ferry, Hon. Kalajaiye and the Assistant National Secretary ATBOWATON, Rasheed Olalekan Solomon.
It was a great honour recently when the Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON), hosted the “Father of Tourism in Nigeria”, Chief Mike Amachree, as he visited the association in view to discuss some of the challenges facing the association and the way forward.
Speaking on some of the challenges, the Vice President, ATBOWATON, Mr. Meshileya urged his members to be up and doing and come out in full all the time to support the activities and growth of the association. He commended the national president of the association for his efforts in the growth of the association.
According to him, “It was the activities of (ATBOWATON) as an association that gingered the Lagos state Government to sit up in the area of waterways operations, and by so doing, they should assist us with funds so as we can aid the economy growth of Lagos state economy.
“Financing and benefit of members has become a nightmare in the association because members are digging in deep to make sure that Nigeria still remain in forefront of water tourism and transport. You can imagine contacting Chicago for sponsorship in boat acquisition. I am pleading to the federal and state government to come to our rescue and encourage operators”.
Also speaking on the challenges facing the association, the Ondo state Chairman of ATBOWATON, Obajimi Manuwa, pleaded that some of the activities of the association as well as operations be brought to Ondo, that Ondo is next after Lagos in terms of water tourism infrastructures and operations.
He said “funding has been a long cry from the association as we all know that acquiring boats and its maintenance is as expensive as anything you can think of  and that is why we plead to you the father of tourism to help us the association members and take our grievances to the appropriate quarters where it can be heard “.

The Chairman, Lagos Ferry, Hon. Kalajaiye, said that Lagos cannot operate without the hand shake of private operators. “Funding is a general problem everywhere even in the government. And another issue with we Nigerians is that we don’t pay back loans and that is why you don’t see most government agencies funding some associations”.
Kalajaiye, commended the leadership of Ambode for always being there to see that Lagos state and their infrastructure gets the best and “I am sure that once this message gets to him, something will be done”.
In a speech presented by the Father of Tourism in Nigeria and former President, Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria (ATPN), Chief Mike Amachree, he said that water based tourism and transport is the reason why “I paid this visit to the association because more needs to be harmonized.
The father of tourism also urged the federal government to mount fuel stations on the water ways as it is one of the greatest challenges of the association instead of members moving around with jerry cans in search of fuel. He said that the Lagos state has done much in building day jetties but should try and partner with boat operators to further open up the Lagos waterways for safe travel on water and greater leverage of the lagoon and oceans.
He also promised to assist the association as he advised they reach out and encourage water based tourism all over the country and include all river line areas of Nigeria in the association.
Places he mentioned that should be included are: Lokoja, Kogi state; Ikitipupa, Ondo state; Bayelsa state; Agungu water front, Kebbi state; Oguta lake, Imo state; Sapele water front, Delta state; Kaiji dam, Niger state; Kolo water front Ogoni, Rivers state; Port Harcourt tourist beach, Rivers state; Badagry water front in Lagos state and others.
President, Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON), Gani Balogun, pleaded to the Lagos State government through Hon. Kalajaiye, to maintain the peaceful relationship between NIWA and LASWA and urge the new incoming government to continue from where the past stopped, stating that “most of the disputes between these agencies, brings set back in our activities as operators and as an association”.

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