By Samuel Tombra, Yenagoa
Maritime workers in Bayelsa State have protested the decision of Governor Seriake Dickson, to ban speedboats with 200-horse-power engines on the state waterways.
Dickson in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, banned the use of 200 horse power engine boats and directed security agencies to commence stop and search operations on both land and the waterways.
The governor said the decision was reached at the 35th State Security Council meeting in Yenagoa, as part of efforts to combat kidnapping, sea piracy and other criminal activities.
Â Dickson, however, said only security operatives were allowed to use such fast-paced engine boats on the waterways.
Â But the Maritime Workers Union (MWU) opposed the ban and called on the governor to review the decision.
The union saidÂ Â the decision was crude and capable of adversely affecting the operations of its members.
The union in a statement issued in Yenagoa and signed by its Chairman, Mr. Lloyd Sese, said that the action of the government was not the best way of tackling issues of sea piracy and kidnapping.Â
Sese said criminal activities on the waterways were age-long problems that hadÂ begged for quick action of the government.
He said: “The ban on the use of 200 horse power engine is not the right step to curbing the menace”.
Sese also lamented that the governor failed to meet with members of the union before taking the decision.
He saidÂ Â such decision would further impoverish speedboat operators that had suffered until hardship in the hands of sea pirates and kidnappers in recent times.
Sese said:Â Â “The union has in the past tried to reach out to government with the view to proffer workable solution to the problem of kidnapping and sea piracy but the government didn’t attach any sense of importance to it but have gone ahead to put the lives of waterway commuters bin danger.
“It is not safe in the light of the current security situation for us to use 75 horse power engines in the creeks because the transport boats would always be out runner by criminals that equipped with 200 horse power engines.
“We therefore call on the governor to upgrade the security infrastructure in the creeks to stem the challenges rather than ban the use of 200 horse powered boats for transportation purposes.”