Despite the efforts of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) especially on Nigerian waters continue to increase; what could be the lasting solution to this menace.
While NIMASA has been at loggerheads with the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), an arm of the International Chamber of Commerce, over a report on the state of piracy in the world in 2018, which reported more incidents in Nigeria than any other country, indigenous operators also lament gross insecurity.
Last week, armed robbers attacked two tanker ships off the coast of Lagos, according to data provided by IMB Piracy Reporting Centre and both attacks occurred only hours apart shortly after midnight near Lagos.
Meanwhile in another development also in the GoG, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) said it is setting up a team to negotiate with the pirates who kidnapped six Russian sailors from one if its containerships, the MSC Mandy, off the coast of Cotonou, Benin Republic, on January 2.
“We have engaged security experts and are creating a team for contacting the pirates. The team will include lawyers, negotiators, and employees of a company that deals with security. We hope to establish the first contact today,” MSC spokesman, Rafaele Porzio, said on Wednesday.
The company, according to him, had already recruited experts who had provided recommendations on a plan to rescue the abducted seamen.
The company has also communicated with the Russian Embassy in Nigeria, asking it to “influence the Nigerian authorities,” according to Porzio.
The increase of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) has led to higher shipping costs since vessels are now compelled to insure their crew aside paying for higher security costs and extra war risk insurance premiums for vessels coming to the region.
Speaking with MMS Plus recently on possible solutions to this problem, the President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun advised the government’s in the GoG region to engage the youths in the coastal areas to become productive.
“There cannot be security on our waters until we provide alternatives for those pirates, hostage takers and kidnappers. There has to be an economic activity that creates job opportunities and entrepreneurial opportunities for these young ones to take their minds away from these illegal vices. If we leave them idle; you know the saying that the idle mind is the Devil’s workshop” he said.
Ogbeifun stressed that an army of heavily armed personnel to guard the waters wouldn’t solve the problem but only mount pressure because the root cause of the problem remained.
“The moment you take off the guards, the problem continues. The government should begin to think of how to bring development to these areas and create opportunities for the people. This may look challenging initially but the government would have to stick to it and advertise, hold seminars to talk to them that it is better to go to school and have a better future. The government should also site some of the nation’s developmental projects in these areas. This strategy would be the lasting solution to the problem as it would lead them to become productively engaged” he added.