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Bunkering boat explodes in flames..But police explains differently

Posted by The Port Harcourt Telegraph on 2005/01/19 | Views: 261 |

Bunkering boat explodes in flames..But police explains differently


Few days after fire struck at Mile III, the Nembe Waterside took its cue Thursday. Smoke from the raging flames could be scene across the city, especially in the old township areas.

Few days after fire struck at Mile III, the Nembe Waterside took its cue Thursday. Smoke from the raging flames could be scene across the city, especially in the old township areas.

When the Telegraph arrived, anxious people were milling around the whole place, with traders arranging their wares in preparation should the fire spiral out of control.

Along Creek Road, policemen took up positions, probably to prevent thieves from carting away valuables. Below at the waterfront, there were
two fire-fighting vehicles. Surprisingly, it was not the fire men who had the nuzzles of the water hose when the Telegraph came calling.

It was the able-bodied youths in the neighbourhood who took the nuzzle right to the river bank to fight the flames after it became clear the firemen may have become weary in the face of the blazing heat, and
probably become drowned by the fear that there could be an explosion before the fire died down.

There is no evidence any one was killed. The police post was however, gutted by the flames that struck at 04.00 p.m Thursday.

Apparently, the boat named Jordan Cross had been moored behind the
police post before the fire incident occurred.

Incidentally, the police and army share common grounds at the jetty.
According to what we have heard, the Jordan Cross had docked hours before the fire outbreak.

In its hold were badges of petroleum products.
Even as the flames rose and black smoke spiraled into the atmosphere, our men on the scene could see the outline of at least three badges and eyewitnesses told us that there may have been other chemicals, perhaps used in illegal bunkering activities.

Amazingly, the boat had come to shore carrying crude and there is no evidence that the Navy - masters of the sea - had intercepted it.

At shore, where policemen, army and naval personnel are seen on a daily basis, it is doubtful that any questions were raised.

The interpretation is that such deals are commonplace, meaning that all of the security agencies there may have been part of the scum - the illegal lifting of Nigeria' crude.
Residents in the area allege it happens all the time.

But security agencies whose personnel were reached by the Telegraph said the jetty has several fuel dumps used to sell fuel to boat operators.
Why the police post took more of the bashing remains a mystery.

Was it pay back time? Was it nature's way of unveiling the goings on? What really caused the fire outbreak?

Some one, it is believed, lit the fire that resulted in the inferno.
Efforts to stamp out the fire failed as it grew in strength while other boats within the vicinity withdrew to the sea to avoid being targeted by the raging flames.

It was a disaster and a tragedy and it exposed how vulnerable not just our waterways could be, but how security personnel are increasingly becoming part of the problem.

Not long ago, a bunkering vessel, African Pride vanished from this side of the Atlantic.

Investigations into the sudden disappearance of the vessel have proved how security personnel connive with rogue businessmen to rip Nigeria of much needed petro dollars.

Most who spoke to us say such bunkering activities take place at the waterfront.

In the meantime, the police has caught two persons, two women believed to be masterminds of the fire outbreak.

They are Gladys Jonah and Ngozi Sam, an Igbo woman. One of them is believed to have owned the product.

They are being held presently at the Borikiri Police station.
Yet, there was a stunning find when Police took the women in. Ngozi Sam, it was discovered, resides at the Bori Camp.

Police are saying nothing in the open but it is one lead they may chase as they try to unravel what happened.

Could her taking up residency at the barracks connote anything? Could it be she might have military connections?

That is up to the police to decipher. Soon, the major service groups would be pointing at each other as the authorities look at the outbreak of fire at the jetty.

There were reports as at press time that the community around the area have set up a make-shift tent for the police, evidence of the fact that they really want the force to remain in their midst to maintain law and order.

For the evil minded, there was the hope the police would leave, at least to allow them carry on with their illicit businesses. While all this plays out, residents insist bunkering could have indeed led to the fire outbreak.

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