The Nigerian shipping waterways has been rated as the most dangerous in the first quarter of 2015. In a new report on threats to shipping, the Nigerian shipping waterways is said to have become the most dangerous in Africa with worst cases of piracy than Somalia. The assessment was done by Dryad Maritime Security for the first quarter of 2015.
According to the report, despite optimum conditions for piracy in Somalia, the presence of international naval patrols and armed guards on merchant ships is containing the threat but pirates remained active in the Gulf of Guinea in the first quarter of this year, according to a new report.
Dryad Maritime’s maritime security report for the first quarter of 2015 notes that although piracy off Northeast Africa is contained, the kidnapping of crew for ransom continues to pose a real and viable threat to mariners off the coast of Nigeria. Although Somali piracy is declining, Dryad notes that in the Gulf of Guinea, kidnapping of crew for ransom remains the most significant threat to mariners in the region.
“In March 2015, eight mariners were taken in three separate incidents off the shores of Rivers and Akwa Ibom States in Nigeria. Three mariners have since been released from captivity after being taken from MT Kalamos on March 3. Unfortunately a crewmember died by gunfire during the incident. Another five crew were kidnapped in attacks against support vessel MV Maridive 603 and floating storage tanker MT Yoho,” Dryad stated in its latest report.
The report stated that there has been only one incident of cargo theft in the Gulf of Guinea this year when maritime criminals took a small product tanker MT Mariam off the coast of Warri on January 11.
The Ghanaian Navy eventually detained the vessel on January 17 and eight armed pirates were arrested. The threat to product tankers of hijacking and theft of their cargo remains, Dryad cautioned.
A further incident of note was when bulk carrier MV Ocean Splendor was fired upon and boarded by eight armed pirates over 150 NM south east of Accra, Ghana on January 14. Some of the crew were assaulted as the gang ransacked the ship.
Two weeks after the incident, a large fishing vessel was hijacked 30 NM south of Takoradi, Ghana. The gang had intended to use the vessel as a mother ship from which to launch attacks against tankers, but having been pursued by maritime security vessels, they left the ship. One of the crew tragically drowned as he made his escape from the gang.
Overall, there have been 18 confirmed incidents reported during the first quarter of 2015 compared with 22 during the same period last year and records are generally consistent with the number of recorded incidents from previous years.
“We are unlikely to see any immediate relief in the maritime domain as the new president gets to grips with significant political and security challenges on land,” Dryad said of the emergence of General Muhammadu Buhari as the president-elect of Nigeria.
By Pita Ochai