Posted by News Express | 4 March 2020 | 933 times
Community-based criminal gangs have taken over the nation’s waterways, from Lagos to the South-South part of the country, collecting tolls from all vessels sailing through that route.
Worst hit are barge owners from Warri axis who have been moving their barges to Lagos following the new trend of movement of cargo by barges from the ports to the private jetties.
A barge owner who recently moved his barge from Warri to Lagos said his company had to part with about N1.2 million to be able to access the route.
He listed about five points where these criminal gangs made up of heavily armed young men, approach every passing vessel in speed boats.
The barge owner said he had to part with N200,000 at three of such points and N300,000 at two others, noting that at two of the points, officials of the Nigerian Navy were around and did nothing as the young men moved about their criminal activities.
He said he does not mind paying the toll since there is business in Lagos that will cover the amount and also cost of the voyage to Lagos.
On how much is made from the barge operation in Lagos, he said renting of a barge for the period of one month attracts about N5 million.
Recall that several stakeholders have complained about the level of insecurity along the waterways in the Southern part of the country resulting in higher shipment cost for vessels going to ports in those locations.
However the President of Ijaw Youth Council, Eric Omare, denied the existence of such gangs in the Warri axis, adding, however, that it could be on the route from Lagos through Ondo before getting to the Delta area.
Omare said, he could, therefore, not speak for those areas.
He said: “Yes but I think that the main fact that the area has been identified and how it is being done is enough for any serious government to handle it.
“The essence of the existence of government is to solve problems as a normal challenge, so they can be addressed. What is lacking in all these is the government’s inability to address this challenge.” (Vanguard)
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