Lagos Port Complex Apapa and Tin Can Island Port Complex, both in Lagos, have been identified as “the most prolific African port for stowaways by number of stowaways and number of cases”.
London-based marine insurer, West of England P&I, which revealed this Tuesday stated that over the past year, up to 60 cases involving 220 stowaways, costing over USD1.6 million to rectify, have been reported.
The marine insurer also stated that stowaways from European ports have increased noticeably in recent years.
The high number of such cases from European ports involving UK entered vessels have exclusively involved stowaways boarding RORO ferries, usually hiding in trailers, and where Northern European ports are concerned, these vessels have all been trading from the listed boarding ports to the United Kingdom.
The club, however, state that African ports still predominate on stowaways, with Lagos ports being the most notorious.
“In recent years the West of England P&I has experienced several incidents whereby large numbers of stowaways (10+) have boarded a vessel in Lagos in a single incident. Durban in South Africa and Douala in Cameroon have also been problematic”, the club stated.
The West of England P&I club therefore “strongly recommend that vessels visiting, in particular, African ports and Northern European Ports when destined for the United Kingdom, ensure robust anti-stowaway measures are in place at all times.”
As regards the typical stowaway hiding places on board, the void space surrounding the rudder trunk continues to be popular.
“It is therefore recommended that a substantial metal grating be welded in position, clear of the full movement of the rudder stock, to discourage stowaways from attempting to hide in this location,” the club said.
Nigerian authorities have been battling with several cases of stowaways at the ports in Lagos.
On Monday, two stowaways were arraigned before an Apapa Magistrates’ Court sitting in Lagos.
The two accused will know their fate September 11, 2017 after they pleaded guilty to a three-count charge brought against them by the police.
The stowaways, Emmanuel Udio, 29 and Ibe Chinnoso, 24, were arraigned on Monday.
The prosecutor, Sergeant Adeniyi Balogun told the court that the accused committed the offences on August 8, 2017 at about 8:30pm at Port and Cargo Terminal, Tin Can Island Port, Apapa.
He said the accused unlawfully entered the Tin Can Island Port Complex without port pass.
Sergeant Balogun added that the stowaways unlawfully gained entrance into a ship named “MSC Paola” and hid themselves from the Captain and crew members with the intent of traveling to Europe without international passport, visa and other relevant documents.
According to him, the offences contravened sections 406, 398(a)(b) and 398 of the criminal law of Lagos State, 2011.
The Magistrate, Mrs Adenike Alaka adjourned the case till September 11, 2017 for facts and sentence.
The court recently sentenced two stowaways to 10 hours of community service for attempting to travel to Brazil illegally. The community service was performed within the court premises.