Amidst the never-ending crisis of the Barbary Strait dispute, Alexandrian merchant vessels reacted angrily yesterday after the latest solution was rejected by the Jingdaoese and South Batavians. The crisis has greatly hurt the ports and associated shipping companies of Lille, Crecy and Vincennes.
With the Straits likely to remained blockaded for the next few weeks at the least, Alexandrian sailors and shipping owners are threatening to take the dispute into their own hands. There is widespread anger at the inability of the Imperial Government to come to terms with the South Batavians, although many Alexandrians are in no doubt as to who is at fault for this.
“The South Batavians have been offered deal after deal and have rejected all of them. The Imperial Government has kept us as informed as they can throughout all of this. We’re in no doubt who’s causing this issue.” said the organiser of the Freedom Convoy as it has called itself, Marcel Dejillo.
The Freedom Convoy now counts around 80 vessels in its numbers, both large and small. Many small vessels, from pleasurecraft and leisure vessels to fishing trawlers, are taking part at what they perceive to be the injustice of the restrictions. Yet there are also larger vessels, such as the oil tankers MV Pete James and Jean Michel LeClerc, owned by the Dejillo Shipping Company, taking part.
The Imperial Government has asked for the vessels not to attempt to sail through the Strait without South Batavian approval, with the local MP and Alexandrian Foreign Minister Jean Carmichael specifically stating as much in a speech to the Imperial Assembly today. Yet Dejillo and the other Captains are insistent that the Straits are international and they have a right to sail through them.
“What South Batavia is doing is nothing but a blatant show of greed. There’s never been a problem before. The talk of pirates is nonsense. They are fed up of Alexandrian merchants like me dominating the trade in the Sea because we offer superior quality and cheaper shipping rates. They want the trade for themselves and to add insult to injury they want to extend their domination of the river trade routes too. Its unacceptable. Whilst Carmichael’s been doing a good job attempting to fight our corner its not enough. They need to see some direct action.”
Speaking with the Captain of the smallest vessel, the Yacht Luscious Lilly of Lille, there were also similar sentiments. “Look, I don’t have an interest in the trade routes and all that. They bring in money, they make Lille and the other ports what they are. This is about more than all that though. They have behaved like children, they have acted like brats and they have insulted our honour as Alexandrians. We are not going to back down without a fight, even if the spineless Carmichael will. Dev can take over the Foreign Ministry brief.”
Asking both men what they thought of the risks of running their ships through the Strait they appeared unconcerned. “South Batavia has a few gun batteries and missile sites. I saw them shooting during the Jasonia War when I ran through supplies to the isles. They’re nothing to fear.” responded Dejillo with an air of non-chalance. The fleet is set to sail at 8pm Lille time.