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
NGO Leads Onslaught To Curb Violence Against Women
As the two week advocacy campaign against violence on women gathers momentum, a non-governmental organisation labeled Mother of Good Counsel Initiative (MOGCI ) has organised a stakeholders meeting to address the societal malaise.
It carried out sensitisation campaigns to churches, communities, women, and adolescent groups across the State.
At a workshop held in Port Harcourt, Executive Director of MOGCI, Dr. Doris Onyeneke while speaking on the topic, “The Role of Women in Eliminating Gender-Based Violence” regretted that women are both victims and perpetrators of gender-based violence.
Onyeneke submitted that violence against women goes against the fifth Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which harps on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.
In her words, “These abuses most often result in death of the victim. It goes as far as denying her economic rights and most married women are denied employment due to their status.”
She listed cultural , economic, and political factors, including war, and conflict as major causes of Gender-based violence.
For her, women are more susceptible and prone to gender-based violence and should speak out against factors that encourage gender-based violence, while recommending measures that will nip the malaise in the bud.
Similarly, Mrs. Victoria Ilochonwu while speaking on, “Empowering Women Through Family Planning: A Path to Gender Equality and Violence Prevention” identified challenges of women and girls while proferring that family planning can help curb gender-based violence.
She disclosed that one in every four girls gets pregnant before they turn 18, and that one in four girls drop out of secondary school and about 800 women and girls die from childbirth every day.
She enumerated the benefits of family planning in checking gender-based violence as it enhances child and maternal health, while helping the women to have control over their bodies and the ability to pursue their career.
She stressed the need for men to be incorporated in any family planning, to avert violence and physical abuse in the home.
Another speaker, Miss Sarah Iroha on the topic, “Gender mainstreaming,” stressed need for public policy to incorporate legislations and programmes that will empower women.
She argued that projects and programmes are key mechanisms that will enhance mainstreaming of women in the polity.
For her, goal setting goals prioritisation, engagement of women and men, empowering mothers, stopping child marriage, and getting women into political offices are ways to engender gender equality.
On her part, Mrs Michael Peace spoke on “Ways to Mitigate The Impact of Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women,” and sought more increase in funding to end violence against women and girls through economic empowerment.
Mrs Uzoechi Stella Onyinyechi in her paper, “Putting Gender on The Agenda And the Examination Of Practices That Violate The Rights of Women In Nigeria,” stressed that over the years, most societal anomalies the women face in Nigeria had been seen as normal even though it was bad.
The origin of some of these practices and the effects she explained have been overlooked, and as such have become traditions, while most of them are everyday experiences they encounter simply as being “feminine” in nature and therefore, appear helpless when they experience such.
The event included road shows, visits and workshop and paper presentation on burning issues relating to girls and women rights.
Stories by Kevin Nengia
300 Women Get ICT Training In PH
A non-governmental body, Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) has graduated about 300 young ladies in information technology.
The programme which held in Port Harcourt yesterday was held in partnership with the European Union (EU), and is aimed at empowering women in the use of ICT to leverage and improve their businesses.
Programme Coordinator of the scheme, Ifeoma Ndekwu told The Tide Metro that the training was formulated to arm young and enterprising ladies in the Niger Delta to improve on their skills as a way to improve their well being.
Participants were drawn from all over the state and included people with physical challenges as it lasted for three months.
The trainees underwent training on Coding, Computer Appreciation, Graphics and Affiliate Marketing, according to Ndekwu and those who did exceptionally well were employed by top ICT and mobile network firms in the region.
A trainee, Elizabeth Topeh told The Tide Metro that she was fulfilled after three months intense training” I feel excited and appreciate SDN for what they have done for us.”
Topeh underwent tutoring on computer appreciation and assured of utilising her new skill to improve her network.
The same view was expressed by Merit Onoge, who participated through a virtual class.
Onoge said the class was flexible and allowed her to do other things. She left graphics, adding that, “ I intend to improve my profile on LinkedIn and display my work to get jobs.”
One of the trainers and mentor for the graduands,Gloria Ojukwu of Tech Trail urged the beneficiaries to utilise the skills they have acquired.
She said,” In the tech world, opportunities abound but they continue to change and so you must be able to upgrade.”
Stressing the need for the trainees to be patient and consistent, Ojukwu recalled that she broke through after four years in the industry,” so I will urge you to be constantly motivated. You need to have patience.”
On her part, Boma Dave Bave challenged the beneficiaries to exploit their skills through many avenues,” you can succeed in the comfort of your homes,” she said, “ICT is something you can do anywhere and if I can make it, then, you can also make it.”
Also speaking, South South Coordinator of National Information Technology Development Agency(NITDA), Samuel Gambo said he was happy that women have begun to see opportunities in ICT.
He stated that over the years, computer technology has evolved and that this sixth generation is driving the world such that almost all businesses are attached to information technology.
Gambo averred that the training will reduce the gender gap in ICT since men dominate the industry over the years.
The programme which was started in 2017 has been one top empowerment scheme for SDN.
With over 3,000 trained so far, Ndekwu said the body had to change its target sometime after the COVID-19 in 2020, as the use of ICT increased.
This year was targetted for 1500 women, but about 300 participated, Ndekwu disclosed, insisting that,” our expectation is to see women basically improve in their businesses.”
Omoku Agog As Monarch Honours 29 Nigerians
Eze Ogba of Ogbaland, His Eminence Nwachukwu Nnam – Obuohna – Obi II has honoured 29 eminent Nigerians with chieftaincy titles and family chiefs in the area.
The conferment was done at the 2023 Nchaka festival among Ogba people.
The 2023 Nchaka festival which is marked annually among Ogba people also witnessed coronation of some family chiefs, and conferment of chieftaincy titles to Nigerians including leaders of the major ethnic groups residing at Omoku, aimed at promoting peace, oneness and development of Ogbaland.
The event witnessed supporters imcluding various cultural groups with their musical dance steps which were not left out as they kept all segments of the occasion lively.
The jubilant crowd of supporters could not hide their joy as they danced to the admiration of the people, while Oba of Ogbaland, Nnam – Obuohna – Obi 11 urged the newly recognised chiefs to uphold their culture and promote peace ,unity and progress of Ogbaland.
In their separate speeches, HRH Eze Enoch Achomikwu, Paramount Ruler of Ebogoro community expressed gratitude to God for making the day a dream come true, saying he is glad for being honoured by the Oba and his people, urging his subjects to embrace peace.
Eze Eluozo Vincent Eboh Ochi- Ohna Obieti 11 said he will support the Oba to protect the cultural values bequeated to them by their forebears
HRH Igwe Kingsley Amaechi, Ogena Otanima III of Ogbaland ( the King of Igoro group of families, on his part pledged to work together with everyone in truth to resolve disputes and foster unity through constant update of happenings in the domain.
Eze Henry Onyedibia promised to assist the Oba to sustain existing peace . Eze Henry assured that as an academia, he will bring his wealth of experience to bear in promoting peace, prosperity and development of Ogbaland.
He urged youths to shun cultism, anti-social behaviour as Ogba nation can only move forward if what is right is done.
Eze Christian Obi – Ochi – Ohna 1 of Ogugban community expressed aappreciation for the recognition done him by the monarch.
He described Ogba people as peace-loving and recognising those who merit it ,saying peace of Ogba is paramount, hence, working together to achieve it.
Eze Emmanuel Orike , Ochi-Ohna Ogbio OgoroOhna I of Ogbaland described the honour as the work of God and assured of his readiness to contribute to the cultural norms of his people and to assist in alleviating poverty in his community.
Prince Okechukwu Agbadugba – Omuosia in Obioho community Ogbaokata gave thanks to God.
He hinted that he will work in accordance with the Ogba-in-council to promote peace and progress of his people.
Eze Hector Woko said he is overjoyed with the honour while expressing happiness, as his dream has finally come to pass, and expressed his readiness to serve humanity based on the mandate given him, and to promised make a difference by improving lives.
Eze Ben Edoso – Odori of Ogbaland described it as a call to service, urging them to work in ensuring peace of the land , as it ushers the best especially this festive season where the people understand the timing.
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