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Piracy: Bayelsans beg government to declare state of emergency on waterways

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BY Samuel                Oyadongha

Yenagoa—Worried by the upsurge in attacks by pirates on marine commuters in Bayelsa State, Bayelsans have called on the government to declare a state of emergency on the creeks and waterways.

They also want the government to deploy personnel to the creeks with a view to safeguarding the lives and property of innocent travellers.

The appeal is coming on the heels of last Friday’s attack on a passenger boat heading to Okpoama in the East senatorial district of the state in which three persons, including an aide to a former commissioner and a boat driver lost their lives.

An environmentalist, Mr. Alagoa Morris, who spoke to Vanguard yesterday, in Yenagoa, said: “Pirates rampaging in the creeks of Bayelsa State are denying fellow Ijaws of their lives and property. The state government should declare an emergency on the creeks and mobilise funds to take care of men and materials with a view to safe-guarding the lives of innocent commuters.”

He specifically cited the deplorable situation on the waterways of Southern Ijaw, Nembe and Brass Local Government Areas of the state.
He said: “I am saddened by the ever rising activities and danger posed to those plying our creeks in Bayelsa State, especially in Southern Ijaw, Nembe and Brass councils of the state. This is causing travellers and transporters grave concern as lives and property are at stake.

“As one working for a grassroots organisation which also entails a lot of sailing in the creeks, I appreciate the prevailing situation. Last Friday, three persons, including the speedboat driver, lost their lives on their way to Okpoama from Ogbia (Emakalakala route).

“During my trip on the same day, I saw operatives of Operation Doo Akpo in the creeks escorting market boats and at other spots, the Joint Task Force, JTF, also escorting speedboats leaving Twon-Brass to safe zones before returning to Brass.

“Sadly, there is no such arrangement to escort speedboats from Yenagoa or Ogbia back to the Brass Island and the pirates take advantage of the lapses to strike.”
According to him, the scenario in the creek is capable of sending wrong signals to the investing public especially when the government is wooing investors to the state.

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