Written by¬† Udeme Utip-Uyo
AT least 30 persons including boat operators, fishermen and passengers have reportedly lost their lives to militants and sea pirates who laid siege on Akwa Ibom coastal waters within the last two months.
Mostly affected by the operations of these sea terrorists were Ibaka, Ibeno, Eastern Obolo and other Akwa Ibom territorial waters where such maritime activities take place.
A coalition of boat operators and fishermen unions in Ibaka in Mbo Local Government Area including Mbo Marine Transport (MMT), Ibaka Speedboat Transport (IST), Isongka Association (IA), Fishing Trawlers (FT) and the Mbo chapter of the National Association of Ghanaian Community in Nigeria said such maritime activities have been suspended to avoid more casualties.
Speaking on the matter in Ibaka at the weekend, the chairman of Mbo Marine Transport (MMT), Mr. Bassey Etim, said the militants and sea pirates have made lives unbearable for fishermen, boat operators and passengers travelling to Cameroon and other countries within the Gulf of Guinea.
He said several complaints to security agencies have failed to yield the desired results as the hoodlums continue their illegal activities with reckless abandon, seizing their fishing nets, outboard engines and other personal belongings including cash.
Also, the leader of the Ghanaian Community in Mbo, Rowland Tunde, said the attacks by the sea pirates and militants have led to the withdrawal of their services as boat operators to Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and other countries.
Disturbed by the problem which has led to the scarcity of sea foods, the village head of Ibaka, Chief Asuquo Asuquo Etifit, blamed the rise in coastal crimes to ineffective security networks within the waterways of Akwa Ibom.
‚ÄúThe naval personnel are just there, they can‚Äôt help in any way to tackle the problem. They can only patrol‚Äù, he indicted.
He called on government to fix the deplorable Mbo, leading to Ibaka to facilitate quick evacuation of those affected by the attack to hospitals, regretting that some of the victims died on their way to the hospital because of bad roads.