The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide has decried the rampart attacks on helpless traders and passengers along the Bonny and Andoni waterways in Rivers State by pirates.
The IYC President, Peter Timothy Igbifa, in a statement in Port Harcourt on Wednesday urged the state government and the affected local government areas to take proactive measures to tame the increasing trend.
Igbifa lamented that travelers were being killed, maimed and injured by the bandits, who operated without any intervention by security agencies.
The IYC boss appealed to the military and the marine police to see up checkpoints along the notorious waterways to restore the confidence of travelers observing that people were plying the routes in fear.
He said the IYC under his leadership was already collaborating with the ouncik’s Eastern Zone, which covers Rivers, to activate a local network that would help security agencies tackle the menace.
He said: “The IYC has watched with chagrin, the incessant killings, sea piracy, kidnappings and other criminal activities perpetrated by gunmen along the Bonny and Andoni waterways in Rivers State.
“These traveling routes have become death traps because these daredevil marauding beasts have converted them to their conquered territories operating at will without fear of any security interventions.
“Just recently two passengers were reported dead and many others missing after pirates seized two commercial boats around Dema Abbey Community on Bonny waterways. This unfortunate development led Bonny residents to troop to the streets in protest.
“In fact, the criminal activities along these waterways are alarming, barbaric and saddening. Our people travel in fear. It has negatively impacted on economic activities especially as most people engage in buying and selling as their means of livelihood. This means that they must travel to Port Harcourt through the waterways to bring in goods to their various communities. Unfortunately, they now travel at the mercy of merciless bandits.
“There is an urgent need to sanitise the waterways and dismantle the camps of these criminals. We are calling on the state and local government to collaborate with security agencies to ensure the safety of our people.”
Igbifa added: “The military and the marine police should identify the red zones on the waterways and create checkpoints to tackle this criminality. There should also be regular and constant patrols along the affected waterways to restore the confidence of travelers.
“We are calling on the chairpersons of Andoni and Bonny local government areas to be more proactive instead engaging in reactionary approaches each time these criminals attack their victims. They should explore the possibility of constituting youths into local vigilant groups and empower them to patrol the waterways.
“The council under my leadership cannot fold its hands and watch our people suffer helplessly in the hands of daredevil criminals. Therefore, we are working with the Eastern Zone to activate a robust security plan and strategy to assist the government in tackling this menace.
“We are warning youths to desist from crime and embrace legitimate means of livelihood. Enough of these senseless and heartless attacks on our innocent mothers, fathers and daughters who are working hard to make a living”.