A report by the US Department of State has raised concerns over a series of pirate attacks that have occurred recently
A report by the US Department of State has raised concerns over a series of pirate attacks that have occurred recently.
The spike in maritime crime has led to an increase in foreign shipping companies paying for escorts for their vessels.
The Maritime Administration (MARAD), an agency within the US Department of Transportation, has assessed Nigerian waterways as being a critical-threat location for crime and has warned ships to be weary when approaching and entering.
MARAD works in many areas including shipping, port and vessel operations, national security and environment.
The report refers to two incidents that have taken place in the last two weeks in the Gulf of Guinea, a particular crime hotspot, on October 21 and 25, 2017.
The nature of the first incident was piracy and kidnapping, it said, the second was piracy.
Referring to the latest quarterly report from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), MARAD stated that a total of 20 attacks on vessels in Nigerian waters were reported in the last three months, 16 of which occurred offshore of Brass, Bonny and Bayelsa.
Guns were reportedly used in 18 incidents and 17 of the 20 attacks were conducted on vessels that were in transit.
Furthermore, 4 in 5 global maritime crew kidnappings have occurred in Nigerian waters in seven separate incidents.
MARAD has confirmed a state of escalating insecurity in Nigeria’s waters and has advised vessels in the area to be cautious, even after the alert’s official termination on November 2, 2017.
Four major international shipping countries operate in Nigerian waters, Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Company, Grimaldi and CMA/CGM, in addition to smaller foreign and domestic companies.
According to Leadership, the Nigerian newspaper, foreign shipping companies spend over US$45 million annually on escorts for their vessels through Nigeria’s waterways.
Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said on October 30, 2017 that attacks in the nation’s waters would subside since the government contracted an Israeli firm to monitor coastal waters against maritime crimes.
“They will buy equipment and dominate Nigeria's waterways for the next three years… [and] will train our security operatives [Navy, Army and Police] for them to take over after the expiration of the contract.
“That is being done through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)…so that we can stop spending money escorting boats and vessels on our waterways.”
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