Incessant pirate attacks and kidnappings are taking an alarming toll on shipping in Nigeria’s territorial waters and the Gulf of Guinea.
This year alone, freight costs have reportedly risen six times, amid fears insurance could also be hit.Statistics from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) show: “In the first four months of 2018, the number of incidents significantly increased in the region, with 36 reported, against 17 the same period in 2017.”
Last month, 11 crewmembers of FWN Rapide were taken hostage off Port Harcourt, spending four weeks in captivity.
The mariners were sailing on board the Dutch-flagged vessel from Takoradi in Ghana when they came under attack.
In February, five armed pirates attacked ST Marseille, a Luxembourg-flagged tanker as it anchored in the Bay of Cotonou. They had approached the tanker in a speedboat and opened fire.
The same month, armed pirates attacked two vessels in separate incidents off the Coast of Bonny Island.
The development has left stakeholders worried that foreign shipping companies may introduce a minimum of $200,000 (about N72 million) as insurance premium before calling at the nation’s ports.
“The cost of shipping is now very high because they increase it almost on a monthly basis.
They have increased it more than six times this year. At a time, it was increased by $500 or $600. Now, it’s over $5,200, from $2,200 for one container.
This increase is affecting the prices of commodities because we will have to add the cost of shipment to determine our market price,” lamented importer, Okechukwu Nwobi.
The latest report released by Ocean Beyond Piracy (OBP) and obtained by The Guardian showed that the economic cost of piracy to West Africa has been on the increase in the last three years, reaching over $818.1 million in 2017, while about $213.7 million was spent to contract maritime security personnel protecting vessels in the region.
It revealed that regional spending on law enforcement and naval patrols increased by $13.2 million in the year.
The report also showed that 1,726 seafarers were affected last year, while 100 crew members were taken hostage.
Two persons were killed.
It suggested that attacks on cargo vessel are currently on the rise, as crude oil prices assume an upward swing. “While only one incident of hijacking for cargo theft was recorded in 2017, incidents in early 2018 may suggest a return to the model,” states the report.
Shipping companies patronising West Africa and indeed Nigeria are incurring additional expenses, as they are compelled to engage the services of private security guards, even though the Federal Government recently declared that such violates Nigeria’s constitution.
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