Members of Unwana/Afikpo Seafood Cooperative Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited, Inuah Abasi, Mbo Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, are groaning over the loss of goods and two Horse Power, HP engines worth over N15 million in a boat catastrophe.
It was gathered that 15 members of the society, who left Calabar for Inuah Abasi, a journey of five hours, ran into a very weighty tornado between Oron and Ibaka on the sea.
One of the victims and branch chair of the society, Mr. Ibiam Ibiam Agha, said, “What we lost in the mishap was well over N15 million because the cooperative’s boat alone was worth about N3 million with 40- horse power boat engines and goods worth about N10 million.
He said, “We left the jetty near our Calabar office at about 12.00 pm on that fateful day, everything was moving smooth until all of a sudden, we were hit by a very heavy storm between Oron and Ibaka.
Due to the degree of water that was coming into the boat, we were scooping the water, but we could not achieve much with that, so we resorted to jettisoning some of our diesel and goods afterwards.”
Agha disclosed that after they had thrown overboard almost all their goods, including bags of crayfish, fish, and oysters together with diesel, it dawned on them that there was nothing they could do but call for help.
He said:” We discovered that there was nothing we could do but to at least call for help because life is too precious and has no duplicate. We started crying for help and by God’s divine intervention, a fishing boat was passing by and heard our call for aid, that was how we were all rescued and no lives were lost in the disaster.
“My brother, as you can see, we are now idle doing nothing, for more than two weeks now our business has been grounded with no hope of how to get the next meal, schools have reopened but many of us cannot send our children back to school. Apart from the people, who were on the boat, those who have way bill for delivery to Inuah Abasi lost their goods, what do we tell the owner of those goods, because they made down payment already on the goods even before their arrival,” he bemoaned.
When contacted, president of the society in Cross River /Akwa Ibom states, Mr. Agha Okoro, stated that some of the money they collected to finance the business were bank loans and they were still struggling to meet up due to the harsh interest rate before they were hit by this nightmare.
He revealed to Niger Delta Voice that they had spent over 150,000 as payment to divers to see if they could recover their engines or any of the items they lost during the tragedy but the search has not yielded results. Okoro asserted that most of the people who made upfront payment for their goods were on the neck of the society to take delivery of the products.
He solicited assistance as they now live at the mercy of other branches, which might not be able to sustain them for long, stressing that it would not take long before they get tired because that strategy was not sustainable
His words: “We are using this medium to call on His Excellency, Prof Ben Ayade, the state Emergency Management Agency and other well meaning Nigerians to assist us to get back to our feet, it is really hard to pick up the pieces all alone, we just want to return to our business and start all over again,” Okoro said.
“We need another boat, boat engines at least, we can start up from there again, we know it is not easy but we have a proactive governor, who holds the poor in high esteem and has listening ears, under whose leadership Cross River has enjoyed enormous developments within this short period of time,” the president of the cooperative asserted.