From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Calabar Boat owners who ply the Calabar-Oron route have sounded the alarm at the relentless attacks by passenger-carrying speedboats on the waterways.
Boat owners have expressed dismay at the high rate of insecurity in Calabar waters, even when they pay N150,000 a month for security.
In the first week of December last year, one of the passengers, who was kidnapped from one of the boats, paid 250,000 to get his release and the boat sized up to today.
Yesterday thugs suspected of being sea pirates abducted a speedboat carrying more than 20 passengers to an unknown destination along the Calabar River.
The boat is believed to have left Marina Safe Journey harbor heading for Oron in Akwa Ibom state and was also loaded with cargo.
Sources at the beach said the pirates may have taken the boat and passengers to the coves and will demand ransom before being released.
Criticizing the incident, one of the boat owners, who does not want his name printed, said pirate attacks have been happening in the waters since 2014 and they have been protesting in vain to get the attention of the government on their fate.
He said the pirates are after the motor boats which cost more than 2.5 million naira for a used boat.
According to him, pirate attacks in the waters have become routine and they are no longer afraid of them due to their frequency.
He called on the government to come to their aid to stem the pace of pirate attacks in Calabar waters.
According to him, the high level of insecurity on the waterways is affecting their business as passengers are gradually withdrawing from water transport which is an alternative to the deplorable road network between Cross River and Akwa Ibom.
Reacting, Police Public Relations Officer DSP Irene Ugbo said they were not sure yet.
Ugbo said: ‘I called our OC Marine and he said that was what he heard and no one had come to report to the police.
“Union leaders have yet to officially report the incident, but we are on the matter nonetheless.
“The area is raked and our men are down, no one has come to complain but we are still on it.”