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How women earn living ferrying commuters across Bayelsa waters

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By Emem Idio

The average Bayelsa-Ijaw woman is known for hard work and resourcefulness. The state is blessed with an array of creeks, rivers and tributaries which span across the length and breadth of state with fishing, boats-making and lumbering as the main occupation of the people.

However, the industrious women of Sabagreia community in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area have fashioned out a novel means of livelihood eke a living by utilising the natural resource (creeks) in their domain to their advantage.

The community shares a common boundary with Polaku in Yenagoa Local government Area, while the two communities are separated by the Polaku Creek, which the women of Sabagreia have turned to their business territory.

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Although Sabagreia can be accessed through Opokuma Town via the East-West Road, most visitors and indigenes prefer taking a shorter cut through the Polaku Creek, where they are ferried across the 200-metre span to Sabagreia from Yenagoa, the state capital. Apart from being reduced journey time, it is also cheaper.

A journey from Yenagoa metropolis to Sabagreia via Polaku costs between N400 and N500, while a journey by road through the East-West Road costs between N700 and N1,000.

NDV reporter, who visited the area recently, observed that with the bridge linking the two communities still abandoned, the Polaku creek remains the shorter and cheaper route to Sabagreia and other adjoining communities in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area.

This’s what most of us do for a living—Mrs Richard

One of the women, who ferry passengers across the creeks, Mrs Ebisemi Richard, a native of Sabagreia, in a chat with NDV, said the people of the area are not worried with the state of the bridge, adding that it has not affected their socio-economic lives and activities as life goes on.

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According to her, the creek has been one of their means of livelihood, generating additional income for them to fend for their families.

Her words: “This is what most of us to for a living. Although some of us have other sources of income, but we still use this to augment our income as well.

“We charge N50 per head and we make between N1, 500 to N3,000 or more depending on the period. We make more money during weekends, particularly when there are burials and other occasions and during the festive periods.

“During the period of flood, we are usually at home because of the water level and most people prefer to use the East-West Road instead.

“But during the dry season, we are fully in the business of ferrying our passengers and we are safety conscious and do not overload our boats. So no mishap has been recorded,” she explained.

Vanguard News Nigeria.

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