Businesswoman calls on home minister, police to deal with piracy
Stabroek News
March 26, 2007

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After suffering millions of dollars in losses when her fishing vessel was hijacked several nights ago, a businesswoman is calling on the Minister of Home Affairs and the police to deal with the problem of piracy.

Nadira Sookram, the owner of two fishing vessels expressed concern that there was no protection for fishermen on the high seas, especially at night.

Sookram's boat is one of two that were attacked by pirates on Wednesday night at Shell Beach, Region One (Barima/Waini).

Speaking to Stabroek News on Saturday, Sookram said her 53-foot boat, the Prince Christopher was new and this was the first fishing trip it was making. Her losses are estimated at around $4.5M. Among the things she lost, Sookram said, were two 45 horsepower engines, five cylinders of gas, kitchen utensils and foodstuff.

According to the Riverview, Ruimveldt resident, the pirates had earlier hijacked another boat some distance away, shooting the captain in the process, and they attacked her boat around 9pm.

Five workers were on board at the time, and two of them were beaten with wood that was on the boat. The attackers also fired shots in the air.

After the pirates had taken control of her vessel and assaulted her employees, they removed the engine and other goods from the other hijacked vessel and placed them in the Prince Christopher.

She related how her employees had been left drifting in the engineless boat and had been rescued the following morning, and went on to say that she had received information that the pirates knew three of her employees.

Sookram said that was the first time this had happened to her, and it was a very stressful situation since it took $390,000 to prepare for the two weeks' fishing trip.

"I am afraid and I am thinking about selling out," she said, "because there is no protection on the river. I have my other boat out and I am just afraid."

After receiving reports of the incident, Sookram stated that she went to the Ruimveldt Police Station on Friday where a statement was taken from her.

She also said she was told that the names of persons involved in this pirate ring were being called.

There have been a number of attacks on fishermen in the Berbice River especially both last year and this. The fishermen had called for coast guard patrols to curb the problem.