June 14, 2016

A’Ibom community bemoans abandoned fishing terminal

A’Ibom community bemoans abandoned fishing terminal

•Quay collapsing due to erosion and lack of maintenance.

By Chioma Onuegbu

EBUGHU — RESIDENTS  of Ebughu community, Mbo Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, have called on both the Federal and State Governments to breathe life into the only Fishing Terminal in the area allegedly forsaken over 15 years ago.  When Niger Delta Voice visited the terminal, last operated in 2001 by management agent, Eskor Marine, weeds had overtaken the dilapidated buildings and equipment.

•Quay collapsing due to erosion and lack of maintenance.

•Quay collapsing due to erosion and lack of maintenance.

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture has not leased the terminal established in 1985 to another management for about 15 years now. The terminal provided onshore services to fishing vessels, underwater and repair and maintenance.

Ice-making machines

Youth leader in the area, Mr. Eteka Iyahakwa, appalled at the development, said: “This terminal has cold room facilities and ice-making machines that assist fishermen to store large quantity of fish before selling to their customers. But all those equipment are all dilapidated because the place has been abandoned.” Iyahakwa, former secretary of Akai Village Council, urged the federal and state governments to bring back the project and create massive employment opportunities for the people.

2-year notice to develop or handover land

Similarly, Godwin Okon Ante, youth president of Akai Ebughu, where the facility situates, lamented the abandoned project has adversely affected fishing business in the area, urging the state government to take over the project or help the federal government to revive it.

Ante added, “Since this fishing terminal was abandoned about 15 years ago, business is not booming again here. In fact, the anglers now sell their fishes at the high sea. Our youths that liked the fishing business are discouraged because this place is no longer working. It has also affected our community in many other ways.

“Apart from slowing down fishing business, we no longer get the small remittance from vessels that come in and which serve as source of revenue to the local government area. Even white men were living in our communities when this terminal was still working.

“I believe that if this place becomes functional again, we will not be talking about youth unemployment, which is why we need government to come and revive the place and we want to use this opportunity to say that we are going to take back our land if they do not come to revive it. We are giving government just two years or we take back our land,” he said.

Get a viable investor, not lease

Another resident, who simply identified himself as Etim, said the best way to ensure sustainability of the project was outright sale to a viable investor and not leasing it out.

“I believe that the place be sold out completely to a viable investor. The federal government has been leasing it out to management agents and that did not work. The Indians were here. After that, Mid-farm came, and then Eskor Marine took over and after six years, they left and so on. But if it can be revived and sold to a company that can manage it well, I believe that will be better,” Etim said.