Maritime workers vow to shut down port facilities in Rivers over abducted members
The leadership of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria(MWUN) has threatened to shut down all port facilities in Rivers State if their members who were kidnapped earlier in the week were not released unconditionally.
Deputy President General of MWUN, Francis Bunu, disclosed this on Friday as he told newsmen that the abductors had contacted the Union and requested for a huge amount as ransom.
Bunu, however, said that the Union would not pay such amount of money; an amount he refused to disclose, as he added that the Union did not have such money to give as ransom.
The Deputy President General used the opportunity to call on the Rivers State Government and the security agencies to do everything possible for the release of the abducted maritime workers.
He said: “They have contacted us, but we cannot disclose the amount and we have told them that we don’t have money. We have been paying countless times but enough is enough. We are tired.
“We know how much we have lost as transport people who work in the maritime sector to pirates. We are just mere transporters, so why are we seen as the cash cow of kidnappers?
“We have told the government of River State and all security agencies that if nothing is done to release our members that were kidnapped, we are going to withdraw all our services from River State.”
Bunu added that increased insecurity on the Port Harcourt waterways had taken a huge toll on maritime businesses, as the kidnappers have a free reign abducting, killing and raping.
He accused the government of not doing enough in securing the waterways, thus leaving their members exposed to great insecurity risk and paying huge sums as ransom to sea pirates.
He added that insecurity had been a major challenge why the ports in Rivers State remained underutilized, and charged security agencies to step up their surveillance on the waterways to curb the menace of pirates.
“The issue of kidnapping has been happening too often and our members are often the target. Enough is enough. We know how much our members are suffering because the two ports in River State are not working as a result of insecurity in the waterways. A female member who is among those kidnapped had 13 boats but now she is left with just two because of the activities of these pirates.
“To do business in Rivers State is 10 times costlier than doing business in Lagos. What are our security agencies doing? What is the job of the Navy and Marine police? Everybody must do their job, if not, we are going to withdraw our services,” he warned.
It would be recalled that five members of the Union including three other persons were kidnapped on Monday travelling on a passenger boat along Kula-Abonoma River to Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.