Ghana’s Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Geoffrey Mawuli Biekro says maritime piracy and armed robbery cost West Africa two billion dollars every year.
He said piracy and armed robbery at sea on the African continent mainly took place along the Gulf of Guinea and the Indian Ocean.
Biekro said this while delivering a public lecture on the topic “The Spate of Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea and its impact on the Maritime Industry: The Role of Maritime Educational Institutions” in Accra on Tuesday.
The lecture was part of the maiden Regional Maritime University alumni homecoming and fundraising event.
He said the prospects of the oil and gas industry was threatened by the activities of maritime pirates and armed robbers at sea and efforts were required to combat the menace.
The Ghanaian navy chief said the impact of maritime piracy had direct bearing on economic development of any country and great attention was needed to ensure maritime security around the countries territorial waters.
He said there were efforts by both global and regional bodies to combat maritime piracy, which has resulted in cooperation to provide solutions in that direction.
He said the international maritime organisation was also helping countries with technical support to address some of the challenges associated with maritime piracy.
On the efforts of Ghana towards maritime security, Biekro said the country has established the marine police unit and also has boosted the fleet of ships for the Navy to improve monitoring of the country’s territorial waters.
“The Ghana Navy will continue to seek measures to monitor and address maritime piracy along the West Africa sub-region,” he added.
He said operational collaborations have improved over the years to combat the activities of pirates and armed robbers on the seas.
He, therefore, called on maritime institutions to hold workshops on maritime security in the area of laws enforcement.
He said these institutions needed to collaborate with research agencies to find solutions to the menace in the areas of research.
A marine engineer, Jewel Ahiable who was a victim of piracy, recounted his ordeal, saying he and his crew members were capture for 1,000 days.
He said when the ship was capture by the Somali pirates; they demanded a ransom of 10 million dollars which the ship’s owners refused to pay.
He said at one point the pirates, desperate to find a way to make a profit from their prize, even threatened to sell the crew’s hearts and kidneys.
By Pita Ochai