Boat drivers, passengers in Rivers lament insecurity on waterways

Seafarers traveling through Bonny
…Urge Governor Wike to complete Jetty project flagged off in 2016
… Officers Manning few gunboats are extorting us.
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Despite the successful rescue of four immigration officers recently kidnapped along the Port Harcourt-Onne-Bonny waterways, seafarers and boat drivers are lamenting the route has remained very unsafe as nothing  has been done so far to tackle criminality.

A visit to the Port Harcourt jetty in the old Port Harcourt Township revealed that a week after the abduction the four immigration Officers, seafarers who traveled  through Port Harcourt-Onne-Bonny route do so with great trepidation.

“We are perpetually gripped with fear. The few gunboats that are there patrolling the route are there for their own pockets. They collect money from boat drivers and look the other way.
They are few in number but more interested in extorting money from boat drivers.”
Another boat driver said traveling on water is still scary and dangerous.
“I am always in constant fear each time l want to travel my blood pressure jumps up very high. My Doctor has been warning me to take things easy. But l told him that I always feel scared each l want to travel “.
In  another development , the users of Port Harcourt jetty have called on the Rivers State government to complete the project.
The jetty was flagged off for reconstruction in the old Township in 2016 by Governor Nyesom Wike. The boat owners complained that non-completion of the jetty is causing a lot of discomfort to them.
“Since they started reconstructing the Jetty, nothing has been done.They have now merged us with the Nembe, Bille and Hausa people. Let the government complete our Jetty, which is Bonny Jetty so that we go back and operate in our own Jetty.
On how the four Immigration officers abducted on the Bonny waterways were later rescued, a security source said,  “They were rescued around 10 am on Wednesday, November 13. The kidnappers had engaged the security operatives in a gun battle. Seven of the militants were fatally wounded and weapons were recovered from them.
“Unfortunately, other members of the gang escaped deep into the creek with gunshot wounds. ”
The rescued immigration officers were handed over to the police for release to the NIS and their families
Police Public Relations Officer , Mr Nnamdi Omoni , had said then that immigration officers were freed in a location about 15 minutes from Bonny Island.
It is worthy of note that based on the outcry across the state over insecurity and also on the waterways, Governor Nyesom Wike on July 27,2019, launched a new security architecture code-named “Operation Sting”, during which 76  patrol / operational vehicles fitted with communication gadgets, eight armoured fitted gunboats to tighten coastal security and protect the waterways from the activities of criminals were provided.