The Initiative for Youth Empowerment and Welfare Creation has called on Governor Nyesom Wike to rethink the total lockdown placed in the State as it is crippling the maritime sector in Rivers State.
The body indicated this in a press statement issued by its Executive Director, Abiye S. George, urging the Rivers State Governor to grant waivers to maritime workers, and recognize and protect them as key transport workers, amid restrictions around the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Abiye noted that during times of crisis, maritime workers play an essential role in moving not only food and household goods, but also fuel, medicine, equipment, and critical supplies to places in need.
He, therefore, urged the Rivers State government to recognize the contribution of maritime workers towards keeping vital supply chains open; emphasising that the government should partner with agencies under the maritime industry, to put precautionary measures in place so as to check the spread of COVID-19 in the maritime sector.
“At a time when the Federal Government is opening up and making huge investments in the Eastern ports, we think it is only proper that the State government partners with the Federal government keep ports in the State operational.
“Closing down the ports will ultimately lead to huge job cuts and loss of huge revenue accruable to the State” Abiye noted.
To this end, the Initiative for Youths and Welfare Creation fully endorses Circular Letter No. 4224, issued by the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization which called on governments to place emphasis on easing restrictions on shipping services and maritime workers to deliver essential services, including medical supplies and foodstuffs, which are central to responding to, and eventually overcoming this pandemic.
The group also called on the Rivers State Governor to set up an Economic Advisory Team, highlighting that inputs from the team would help the Governor in making sound decisions based on the rigorous evaluation.
“Convening experts in an advisory role will serve to inform government’s decisions and shape future policy decisions and methodology!”, the body posited further.