Abuja - Boat operators and traders in Oron, Akwa Ibom, have decried the increasing rate of piracy activities around the Calabar creeks.
The operators and traders told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on
Saturday in Oron that attacks on boats and vessels have been the major
challenge in their business.
NAN gathered that the development had led to a hike in water
transportation charges as the operators claim to be operating under
Ime Etim, a boat owner, told NAN that piracy was affecting water transportation in the area.
"If pirates attack us, we give them money. Sometimes, they seize our boats or the goods of the traders,” Etim said.
Taju Balogun, another boat owner, corroborated Etims’ complaint,
saying that pirates not only seized boats, but sometimes killed
passengers in the boats.
Ndi Okon, a fish trader, told NAN that boat owners have increased their fares because of the activities of the pirates.
"Before now, we paid between N400 and N500 within the Calabar creeks, but now, we pay N1 200 per trip.
"This is affecting the cost of business,” Okon said.
Sources told NAN that vessels navigating within the Calabar creeks,
around 40 nautical miles from the Fairway Bouy, up to the Calabar Port,
have been operating in fear.
The source said that reports of attacks on vessels and boats around the port have increased in recent times.
According to the source, who pleaded anonymity, there are several islands around the passage leading to the port.
These islands, the source said, served as hideouts for militants who carried out illegal operations on the water.
"Problems with the passage is that there are several islands, like
Parrot Island and Snake Island, where militants used to hide.
"Even ordinary boats crossing the islands have increased their fares because of the activities of pirates,” the source said.
The source said that Nigerian waters had yet to attain a satisfactory
level of security, in spite of measures being taking by the Nigerian
Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
"Recently, NIMASA arrested some oil tankers and handed them over to the EFCC, but nobody has been prosecuted.
"NIMASA is struggling, but at the same time, there are people sponsoring these pirates,'' the source noted.