Yenagoaâ€”Boat operators in Bayelsa State have threatened to go on strike over what they described as the harsh working environment in the state.
Bayelsa is predominantly riverine, with about eighty per cent of the communities far flung in the hinterland and could only be reached by speed boats and other water crafts as well as through the use of helicopter which is limited to the multinational oil companies operating in the state.
The aggrieved workers, under the auspices ofÂ Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, lamented a situation where they were compelled to purchase fuel at exorbitant price due to the absence of floating stations in the hinterland.
In a statement issued in Yenagoa, the union, through its Chairman, Comrade Lloyd Sese, warned that only the deliberate intervention of Governor Timipre Sylva would prevent its members from withdrawing their services.
The proposed strike, he said, became inevitable given the fact that over 80 percent of the state was riverine, and withoutÂ Â functional floating petrol stations to help cushion the hardship faced by marine transporters in the state.
He blamed the high cost of riverine transportation on the scarcity of fuel in the hinterland, adding that marine transportation was more expensive than fueling cars on land.
Comrade Sese noted with sadness that the union members have waited in vain for the state government to make it possible for speed boats and other passenger boat owners to procure fuel for their boats at the government approved pump price of N65 per litre.
He lamented what he described as the insensitivity of the government to the plight of riverine dwellers saying this had led to the neglect of the two floating mega stations in Nembe and Southern Ijaw areas which have not been put to use since they were built.
Sese warned that unless that unless the state government intervened they may embark on strike action.
According to him, the demands of the workers include the construction of a link road to the unionâ€™s loading bay from the Swali Bridge, piling of the unionâ€™s loading bay at the Swali waterfront, construction of NNPC floating Mega stations at major riverine communities, provision of fuel to passenger boat owners at government approved N65 per litre pump price, and stopping the harassment and extortion of local market boats by JTF on the creeks of the state.