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Iwofe Route: Where Passengers, Boat Drivers Defy Pirates

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Few metres from the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rumuolemeni, lies a prominent jetty, with huge passenger traffic ferrying between Port Harcourt and neighbouring riverine communities.
Iwofe Jetty as it is popularly called is an ancient waterfront market called “Minikpiti” by the locals in Rumuolemeni community.
It used to be a key market place where many riverine communities from Tombia, Bakana, Abalama, Okrika, Kugbo in Odual, Otuegene in Ogbia, Ogbakiri, Ogbogoro and Choba sell their farm produce in the olden days.
Today, that jetty has still not lost its verve, as it hosts all kinds of businesses, especially during the weekly market days when neighbouring communities bring their produce for sale every five days.
Such products include timber from Kugbo in Odual, periwinkle and fish from Abalama, Tombia and Bakana, while farm produce like garri, cassava and yam are seen displayed at the mouth of the jetty.
Aside these businesses, Iwofe jetty is a major route for those living close to Port Harcourt. Not fewer than 5,000 persons ply it daily.


For instance, a boat ride from Tombia is just 10minutes from the city, while Ogbakiri is just five minutes. The same goes for Ogbogoro town which on land will take one up to 15minutes cab drive depending on traffic hiccups from St John’s and or from Rumueprikom axis.
As the city traffic worsens over the years, the sea route has become more convenient for many commuters to get to their destination faster.
However, despite its proximity to Port Harcourt city, The Tide Metro learnt that the major challenge to sea farers and passengers using this route are sea pyrates, who molest and cart away belongings of passengers.
Though Godsown Jembi-Isi claims that sea piracy has gone down, others interviewed say it occurs once in a while.
The fire outbreak at Nembe-Bille waterside two weeks ago may have contributed to rising passenger traffic at Iwofe Jetty.
Many boat users now find Iwofe Jetty much safer and shorter to go through.
Last Wednesday’s visit by The Tide Metro to the jetty shows that passenger traffic has grown higher than before, and also many people say it is closer to the town, than going through the Old Port Harcourt township, especially those doing business uptown.


Ipalibo Ngiangia told The Tide Metro that he prefers the route than going through the land.”I live in Tombia and I come to Port Harcourt daily to do business, “as he reasoned that Tombia is closer to Port Harcourt than Bakana”, Just within eight minutes or less, you are in Port Harcourt from Tombia”.
Investigations by The Tide Metro indicate that many passengers consider it cheaper and faster to use boats from Iwofe Jetty to Tombia, Ogbogoro and Ogbakiri communities.
Passengers pay N400 to Tombia and N200 to Ogbakiri. Ngiangia said it used to be cheaper than that until the recent fuel scarcity, as he recalled paying N250 early this year from Port Harcourt to Tombia.
Ngiangia wants government to construct bridges across to connect these communities, “Sometimes when we get here in the night, we take risks to cross, but we do not have any option.”
Beach Master, Godsown Jembi-Isi told The Tide Metro that they have placed a ban on night journeys, “We ask boats to stop plying the routes as from 6.30pm. The only grace we give drivers is for those residing in Tombia or Ogbakiri once it is late.
“With the rainy season setting in, Mr Jembi-Isi said they need a waiting hall, as he noted that the current one built by the Minikpiti community cannot take many passengers. “The rains are coming and passengers need to have shade while waiting for boats”.
Vote Okeh, a boat driver of over 25 years experience, who plies Iwofe to Tombia and Ogbogoro routes frowned at the poor security on the sea route, “From here up to Bonny River, there is no presence of any security boat and that is why we are at the mercy of the pirates.”
He disclosed that even though most of the boat drivers are trained and licensed by NIMASA, yet, they cannot prevent the menace of pirates.
Asked on the safety measures put in place to reduce accidents on the sea way, he said, “You can prevent the level of accidents, but you cannot totally avoid it.”
Apart from that, he decried the level of wastes and debris on the sea route, “Our engines are usually affected, “he stated, “Even the Federal Inland Waterways Agency and NIMASA are yet to clear the sea from wastes. And that causes a lot of accidents”.
On what drivers should do to prevent accidents and attacks on the sea route, he said, “Let them take away fear while boarding; and passengers must wear life vests in case of any accident.”
For Ajetekaa George, a deck hand who controls and directs the boats, “it takes a lot of courage to ply the route.”
On safety measures put in place for passengers, he said, “Life vests are now compulsory for all passengers. If you do not want to wear it, we ask you to go down from the boat.”
He also said they avoid night journeys to prevent being robbed on the sea.

By: Kevin Nengia

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PH Pleasure Park: Fun Seekers Want Pedestrian Bridge

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Fun seekers and residents have called on the government and managers of the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park to construct a pedestrian bridge across Aba/Expressway into the facility.
The call is coming five years after the park was unveiled by the Rivers State Government.
The Tide Metro investigation reveals that many fun seekers and users of the park are exposed to danger as they cross the busy expressway from the other side of the road to the park.
Many parents and guardians who bring their children to the facility, mostly those without cars are at the mercy of fast moving vehicles, while taking their children across the road into the park.
A young mother of four, Patricia Umukwe told The Tide Metro that she brings her children at least every month end to have fun and relax in the park.
Umukwe however said she finds it very unsafe to take her four kids across the road from the side of the road, where the State ICT Centre and RSIEC office are located to the side where the park is located.
“Sometimes, I have to wait for five minutes to ensure it is safe for them to cross,” She said, while explaining her fears of upcoming traffic, what makes it more fearful is that it is an expressway and there are no zebra crossing or pedestrian bridge.”
A hawker that sells nose mask at the entrance of the park, Phillip Amadi told The Tide Metro that sometimes it is difficult to cross the expressway, especially on Sundays.
“Government needs to construct a foot bridge,” Amadi said, “So far I have not witnessed any accident since I started selling here, but for the sake of the children, there is need for a bridge.”
Francis Mark observed that a foot bridge is not only for children, “it should be for both adults and children”.
Mark, who was in the park with his girlfriend said there is need for three footbridges, “all the bending corners should have one” he said. The corners he suggested include the one intersecting G U Ake Road and another one from the corner of Bori Camp Army Barracks, with one crossing between the road directly opposite the park.
The young fun seeker also recommended construction of speed breakers across the precincts of the park, including stationing traffic wardens to help control traffic in order to help those who want to use the facility.
In addition to that, he suggested the presence of armed security men” I m not saying that there has been any criminal incident here, but just to prevent any from happening,” Mark added.
Another visitor to the park, Saviour Timothy observed that crossing Aba/ Expressway into the park is risky, “it takes time to cross the road even as an adult.”
Timothy urged the manager of the facility, Julius Berger to construct a pedestrian bridge for fun seekers to avert road accident.
A staff of the facility who gave his name as Elendu Ebere told The Tide Metro that, “Julius Berger does not have the power to build a pedestrian bridge. It is in the hands of the state government “.
He further explained that though Julius Berger had that in mind, it is only the state government that can approve such project,” besides, this is a federal road, and so before such project, there has to be an agreement between the state and federal governments.
From investigations, not fewer than 2,000 persons visit the park during weekends and this might increase overtime during special holidays.
Today, the park is acclaimed to be one of the best in the country, since it was conceived and built by the Nyesom Wike administration in 2017 to boost tourism and entertainment in the state.
The park boasts of having modern recreational facilities for both children and adults, including a cinema, game halls, and restaurant.

By: Kevin Nengia

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Old Girls Hold Open Day In PH

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Old girls of former Government Girls Secondary School, Harbour Road, now Methodist Girls School lightened old Port Harcourt Township as part of their activities for the School Open Day.
The programme forms part of their yearly reunion.
The Alumni who were drawn from Set 70s and below were dressed in their school uniforms to celebrate what they termed as Open Day.
The school which is now christened MGHS following hand over of some secondary schools back to Christian religious organisations in the state had celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2018.
The celebration heralded the formal registration of the alumni as a global association with chapters within and beyond the shores of Rivers State and Nigeria.
That 60th Anniversary celebration also midwifed the inauguration of her pioneer executives.
Last year, COVID-19 pandemic had led to shift of the event as most programmes slated were cancelled.
The association had planned to embark on the programme for the betterment of the school and students in particular.
With the ease of the pandemic, a much lighter event at a smaller scale was held to reduce crowd last year.
It was not surprising that this year’s Open Day celebration which was slated for the 14th of May witnessed several activities which covered teachers, students and alumnus interaction.
Activities ranging from registration, free medical checkups, administration of medications and counselling were also done.
Medical talks tagged “Know Your Numbers” and the “Silent blinder” were held by medical personnel from University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH).
The old and present girls hit the road with a march past along the Harbour Road Axis to the popular Lagos bus stop upto the Railway Station bus stop axis, that leads back to the school.
The celebration continued with the commissioning of the associations secretariat in the school premises, display of various entertainment from the MGHS students.
Goodwill messages from other alumni associations, award of meritorious service to Alumni from the various decades of the associations, gifts to outstanding students, and to climax the activities was an interactive session with the students who were asked to say some of the challenges they face academically, emotionally, mentally and physically.
This aspect of the programme was the icing on the cake which witnessed the asking of some salient questions which the children admitted would have been difficult for them to ask ordinarily.
According to Mrs Ilanye Jumbo, spokesperson of the association, the 2022 maiden Open Day celebration was aimed at giving back to the school and the society at large.

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Police Arrest One In Diobu Cult Clash

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One person was feared killed when suspected members of a cult group clashed in the Mile One Diobu axis of in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
It was gathered that the clash involved the D12 and BS members of the Degbam cult group.
A source, who narrated the incident to The Tide Metro said gunfire was heard within Akwuzu Street in Mile One, as residents scampered into their houses.
“Suddenly, people started running in different directions. Then, I heard gunshots. I think they shot someone. The man the suspected cultists shot ran some distance and later fell down. The people that shot him entered their vehicle and zoomed off,” the source who preferred anonymity added.
A member of a vigilante group, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Tide Metro that the suspected cultists were armed with dangerous weapons.
He described the attack as a reprisal, noting that the suspected cultists went in search of a rival group believed to be responsible for the killing of one of their members last week.
It was, however, learnt that some policemen from the Divisional Police Headquarters in Diobu went to the scene and reportedly evacuated the corpse of the slain suspected cultist.
Acting Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the state police command, Grace Iringe-Koko confirmed the incident, saying investigation was on to apprehend the suspects.
She said, “Yes, we are aware of the incident. We are still investigating to apprehend the suspects and make them face justice.”
Meanwhile, the police have arrested a notorious cultist who robs bolt drivers and club girls in Diobu area.
The Azikiwe Police Division at Iloabuchi, Mile 2 had on Wednesday arrested the suspect called Tallest who was linked to Dewell cult group at Azikiwe Street.
Tallest or Collins was said to be on police watch list for allegedly committing crime ranging from cultism, robbing of bolt drivers and club girls.
A combined team of security operatives led by Azikiwe Police Division, acting on credible intelligence stormed his hideout at the early hours of Wednesday and arrested him with three others.
The Tide Metro gathered that security operatives intensified search for the suspect after his gang members three weeks ago, in a bid to ensure his escape from security operatives who arrested him for robbery allegation in a brothel popularly known as 49 at Ojoto, Mile 2, attacked the security operatives with guns and other dangerous weapons which led to his escape.
A security source who spoke to The Tide Metro on anonymity disclosed that the suspect’s modus operandi is to book taxi or bolt drivers and later takes his victims to ride around town on gun point, and dispossess them of their valuables.
The suspect, it was also learnt visits high profile clubs in Port Harcourt, where under the pretence of patronising female commercial sex workers lurking around clubs. Once his victim agrees on a price, he takes her to a secluded area and robs her of her valuables, after having rounds of sex with them without paying them.
When contacted on phone, State Police public Relations Officer, DSP, Grace Oringe Koko told The Tide Metro that she would get back to give more details of the incidence.
Tide Metro however learnt the suspect has been transferred from Azikiwe Police Station to the Force Tactical Police Unit for thorough investigations and possible prosecution.

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