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Bonny/Bille/Nembe Waterside Bouncing Back After Fire

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Two weeks after the early morning fire that gutted and destroyed Bonny/Bille/Nembe waterfront, business and life are gradually returning to the area.
From the entrance of the new jetty and loading bay constructed by the Rivers State Government, passengers and boat operators are back in full swing, as cargoes and wares are wheeled in and out of the waterfront.
The site of burnt boats, engines and smell of smouldered plastics and other goods burnt in the inferno have gradually given way to new speedboats and other cargo lunches used by the Nembe fish and timber traders.
A lady who sells sachet water in bags at the front of the loading bay at Nembe waterfront told The Tide Metro that she lost over 100bags of her goods to the fire.
According to her, when the fire broke out in the middle of the night that fateful day, her sachet water bags were used to put out the fire. “I came in the morning and could not find any of my goods here. They told me it was used to quench the fire.”
In her estimation, she lost about N50,000 to the incident. She said, “As you can see, I’m trying to recover and it has not been easy after the fire.”
The sachet water seller declined to give her name, stressing that “We have been calling for assistance since after the incident, but nobody has come to assist us”.
The Tide Metro learnt that not fewer than 20 persons, including children died during the inferno. Most of them were asleep in the Nembe big boats, and there were no rescue men to save them.
Beach Master at Bonny Waterfront, Allison Owusigbo said two of his 200horsepower outboard boats got burnt in the inferno.
He said in order to reduce difficulty faced by passengers due to lack of boats, they had to call in boats from neighbouring communities, “most of the boats you are seeing here were brought either from Bonny or any other place. We lost over 100 boats here during the fire.”
For now, Owusigbo said he and many other boat owners are starting afresh, “even if you go for a fairly used engine boat, a medium sized outboard motor engine boat is not less than N3.5million. Each of the boat you see here is not less than N1million, and one 200horse powered engine is about 10million.”
“ If you look around, you will see many drivers are out of job because their boats were burnt. And that is why we want government to come and help us. “
The Bonny Beach Master further disclosed that they incurred huge loss because at the time the fire broke out, many of them had retired home to rest, hence, they could not rescue or save both human beings and materials at the beach.
Appealing to the authorities to build a fire substation at the jetty, Owusigbo reasoned that other measures need to be put in place to avert such incident in the future.
He advised those who lost their boats and goods to take heart, “They don’t need to relent. As far as there is life, there is hope.”
The same view was expressed by Prince Ebijuoworih, Booking Clerk with the Maritime Workers Union at Nembe jetty, “If we had a fire station here, the fire would not have spread to this level.”
“Any boat you see here today may have been outside here, or were brought from Bonny,” he intoned.
Ebijuoworih described the waterfront as, the eye of Rivers State, “This is where many riverine communities come to buy and sell.”
The booking clerk sought for more government presence at the jetty to ensure safety and security at the waterfront.
Favour Michael, who sells electronic products and other goods at the jetty’s entrance, told The Tide Metro, “We are just trying to recover. All my goods were burnt in the fire.”
He continued, over 2,000 persons make daily living from this jetty and since the incident, we have not had any intervention, not even from NEMA.”
Michael said many of them are trying to scratch out something from the few goods that were saved. “The economy of the country is bad, and so it’s only God that we are looking up to.”
What bothers Michael Jaja, another business owner at the jetty is the level of human loss in the inferno. “We can’t quantify the number of people, including children who died in the fire. It will take time for their families to recover.”
He stated that this is not the first time fire broke out at the waterfront, “this is the second this year, but this last one was very huge.”
Asked how the fire started, Jaja narrated that the fire started from one of the big Nembe Market boats when one of the deck hands went to refill the tank of a water pumping machine. While the machine was still steaming, he poured petrol into the tank and fire sparked from the plug and spread.
Another version by Ebijuoworih indicates that the fire broke out when two gas cylinders collided. The gas was being off loaded from one of the Nembe big boats when they collided and burst into flames.
Mr. Michael told The Tide Metro that it was wrong for some people to think that the fire was caused by “kpofire”. This accident can happen anywhere and it is as a result of man-made error”.
Even with the huge loss, the recovery seems to be slow and steady around the waterfront. Business activities still go on with the usual bustle and hustle of Bonny/Bille/Nembe jetty in Old Port Harcourt Township.

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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