GoG Ministers meet in Luanda, Angola
• Piracy, other illegal activities top agenda
Deliberations on countering the growimg scourge of piracy, armed robbery and other illegal activities in the waters of Central and West African sub-region are expected to top the agenda, as the two-day seventh ordinary session of the Cabinet Council of the Gulf of Guinea (CGG) commences today.
The participants will also debate matters related to the adoption of Luanda Declaration on peace and security in the region.
Participants will also debate the validity of the texts elaborated by the Inter-ministerial Summit held in Cotonou, Benin Republic, for the preparation of the joint summit of the Heads of State of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the CGG set for Yaoundé, Cameroon, on May 17-18, 2013.
The adoption of the plan of action of the Commission of Gulf of Guinea for 2013, as well as its budget is also part of the agenda.
Meanwhile, the private maritime security company Port 2 Port Maritime has warned of the dangers of using unlicensed private security in the Gulf of Guinea.
At a Counter Piracy Conference in Hamburg, Germany, Port 2 Port Maritime warned ship owners operating in the Gulf of Guinea of the dangers of using unlicensed private security companies to deter piracy and other maritime crimes.
The Senior Operations Manager for Port 2 Port Maritime said, Martin Broughton, said: “With the decrease in piracy activity on the East Coast of Africa and the Arabian Sea, the focus of attention has turned to the increasingly volatile West Coast of Africa and the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) region. In 2012 the GoG witnessed its worst year for acts of piracy and maritime criminal activity, and if the current rate of incidents continue, 2013 will surpass all previous years.”
He continued: “The rise in maritime crime has resulted in a vast number of private maritime security companies (PMSCs) trying to ply their trade in this area without fully understanding the regulatory requirements and nuances of operating in such a diverse area. Shipping companies and charterers alike need to be aware of the pitfalls when using the services of PMSCs that are not fully licensed, which could ultimately lead to them being unable to operate and deliver their services.”
Port 2 Port Maritime claimed to have witnessed numerous cases of unlicensed and unregulated “off duty” Nigerian Armed Forces allegedly being used for protection services within Nigerian waters; something that, according to the company, would annul any indemnity they have in place for the GoG region.
The Managing Director of Port 2 Port, Andrew Varney, also stated: “For the past year, Port 2 Port Maritime has been fully compliant and licensed in delivering maritime security services in this challenging region. Port 2 Port Maritime has the authority and requisite licenses to embark and disembark personnel and equipment at Cape Verde and Namibia, allowing for North/South and South/North armed transits of West Africa. Port 2 Port Maritime provides highly experienced maritime security officers, complimented by indigenous armed forces.”
He continued: “Port 2 Port Maritime have recently operated in the waters off Sierra leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo,Bbenin and various ports in Nigeria to the South of the country. This, coupled with the support pf Port 2 Port Maritime Intelligence Services, make Port 2 Port Maritime the providers of choice for shipping companies and charterers to provide all their security solutions. Port 2 Port Maritime continues to re-define maritime security in an ever changing and highly volatile environment.”