By Francis Okoye, Maiduguri
The Borno Fish Producers and Marketers Association has said that it losses about N500 million in fish business every week due to the lingering Boko Haram insurgency in the state.
The association added that prior to the Boko Haram insurgency, over 30 trailer loads of fish were received every week on the Maiduguri fish market from Baga, Gamboru and the shore of Lake Chad.
The chairman of the association, Alhaji Abatcha Mandalama, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP Friday in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital yesterday.
He said not only that thousands of the members are now impoverished, but the state government is losing much in revenue to the challenges facing fish business in the state, being one of the major sources of revenue prior to the crisis.
Mandalama said prior to the Boko Haram insurgency, a carton of Aspen filled with fish was sold at N19,000 but it’s now sold at 38,000, while a carton of Rothmans filled with fish, which was as well sold at N7500, now goes for N18, 000.
He attributed the high cost to the Boko Haram terrorists that have prevented fishermen from fishing in the Lake Chad axis.
The chairman said until the military clears terrorists, who are now operating in the rivers and restores normalcy for fish business, the economy will still remain in shambles.
According to him, at the initial stage, the terrorists recruited a particular tribe of fishermen in the Lake Chad, who are known to live and sleep on top of water` to boost the fishing business they took away from people.
He said, “The entire roads we pass while transporting fish to Maiduguri have been blocked by the Boko Haram terrorists. Governor Babagana Umara Zulum earlier constituted a committee, but our challenges are that the work of the committee is restricted to Gamboru”.
“There is fish in Gamboru but bringing the fish down to Maiduguri has been a great challenge. We have been seeking to have an audience with Governor Zulum to discuss how to improve the business, but all our efforts are to no avail”.
“We are pleading with the governor to grant us an audience so that we can discuss how to revive the fishing business in Lake Chad and improve the economy of the state”, the chairman said.
He said without clearing the terrorists from the water zones, the relocated Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Marte and Baga cannot go back to their fishing and farming business, except to depend on handouts from government and Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs).
“These people that have been relocated to Marte and Baga are fish farmers, but with the activities of the Boko Haram terrorists which is still ongoing in the areas, they cannot return back to their business”.
“If the Boko Haram war is not fought on the Lake Chad waters, fishing business will elude Borno and further subject people to abject poverty”, he said.