Amid rise in pirate attacks and armed robbery incidents in Nigeria and the larger Gulf of Guinea region, Chairman, Port Consultative Council (PCC), Otunba Kunle Folarin, has warned of imminent increase in insurance premium on Nigeria-bound cargoes if urgent measures are not taken to improve maritime security in the region.
Attacks on ships increased by more than 40 percent in the first nine months of this year over the same period of 2019, according to the International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre.
Speaking with SHIPS & PORTS in Lagos, Folarin decried the negative image the spate of attacks has given Nigeria.
He said, “High rate incidents in piracy and armed robbery in Nigeria’s territorial waters particularly in the Gulf of Guinea is a serious matter people are playing down and the only thing they are saying is how to acquire helicopters.
“It is okay to acquire helicopters, boats and all the rest but what is the organisation to tackle this issue? This issue may prevent us from securing the category C seat at the next International Maritime Organisation (IMO) election.
It is an uphill task for us to be on the White List unless the international communities are seeing us active, reducing if not able to wipe off the attacks.
“Already all the international shipping companies are just waiting. Within a week or two, they will slam surcharges on Nigeria-bound cargo and we will be paying high rates for units of cargo and anything we import.
“International shipping, commerce and trade in the country of origin will start to look at Nigeria as not a preferred destination for their trade. As a result, goods and services for Nigeria will be deferred and delayed and even become expensive because of the local conditions where the goods and services are supposed to be destined.
“We have had several attacks with several multinational agencies giving us data, statistics and date of the attacks. But the question is: is our response commensurate with these attacks? If our response is commensurate with the attacks, that would have created a kind of deterrent to reduce the attacks but rather, the attacks are increasing.
“If the government is bringing part of the deep blue project equipment by next year according to the Minister, we must see the assemblage of the deterrence that is on ground.”
While stressing the need for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to step up its effort by providing round the clock surveillance in the nation’s territorial waters, Folarin also called for joint surveillance by countries in the Gulf of Guinea to stem the attacks.
“We must increase our surveillance of the corridors and the coastline of Nigeria. We must provide deterrence against any planned attacks along these coastlines. NIMASA must be strengthened to the level that they can provide round the clock surveillance in our territorial waters.
“But if it is beyond us to do, then we engage other countries within the corridor of the GoG, so we can have a joint command and response mechanism for both humanitarian response and rescue to those who are traumatised by the event,” Folarin added.