I am aware there was a plan to implement the anti-piracy bill but not much has been said about it till now.This is something the Federal government needs to look into because the bill is aimed at criminalising piracy and all maritime crimes in the country, with the attendant punishment enshrined in the Nigerian legal framework. Also, the implementation of an integrated national surveillance and waterways protection solution with command and control infrastructure should be implemented in order to enhance security on our waterways. Government should put the necessary technology in place to fully tackle the menace of pirates on Nigerian waters, which has remained a problem and threat to the country.
There was a time an anti-piracy operation ‘Operation TsareTeku’ was introduced.Though it was a step in the right direction but it can only be improved upon if the government equipsthe Navy better. Piracy has grown into a major cartel with all the necessary sophisticated ammunitions required to fight a battle on the sea. To fight it successfully demands that the government provides the necessary ammunitions to enable the navy confront the criminals directly. Fighting piracy to a halt will further boost investors’ confidence that Nigerian waters are safe for maritime business. It will attract more vessels into the country and contribute greatly to the growth of the maritime industry in Nigeria. Also, curbing piracy is definitely a good way to deal with other criminal activities that fester on the sea. It is important for Nigeria to also key into international collaboration in information sharing especially with neighbouring countries in the West African sub-region. If Nigeria is able to successfully curb sea piracy, we would be adding significant value to our economy. In the same way, safe waterways also connote that we can begin to explore water transportation for inter-state travels in a commercially viable way.
Solving the issue of piracy should be the topmost priority of our government else it may lead to negative economic consequencessuch as an increase in the cost of marine insurance or war premium insurance. This ultimately leads to high cost of goods and services. Securing the nation’s territorial waters requires the commitment of all stakeholders involved and also that of neighbouring countries. Government and multilateral organisations responsible for maritime affairs must collaborate on the implementation and enforcement of security requirements under the International Ship and Ports Facility Security (ISPS) code. Also, additional training should be given to naval officers while providing technical and further support to patrol vessels in the region.
The government needs to address the issue of imported products meant for Nigeria, financed by Nigeria but landing in neighbouring countries. That must also be addressed because it does not only take away the job opportunities in terms of Ship-to-Ship (STS) and berth services to these countries, it has also been a major source of smuggling because when the Central Bank of Nigeria finances an import and the import goes to another countries, with only a bit coming to Nigeria, that to me is a major source of smuggling that government must not overlook.These are some of the things that are often a falloutof piracy.If you check the records, most of the attacks by pirates are on tanker vessels. The earlier the government seekssolution to pirate attacks on our waterways, the better for us all.