NIMASA blames forged certificates, poor seafarer wages, others for insecurity in Gulf of Guinea

The dire security situation in the Gulf of Guinea is caused by several factors, including readily available forged certificates, unusually poor seafarer wages, and depletion of natural resources, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has said.

The Director, Shipping Development, NIMASA, Captain Warredi Enisuoh, recounted these in his paper, Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea, last Tuesday in Lagos at the second day of the Fourth Nigeria Maritime Expo (NIMAREX 2014) which ended on Wednesday.

Enisuoh listed some other reasons for insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea to include: the ready availability of buyers of stolen goods, lack of enforceable laws, lack of requisite equipment and technology to tackle the scourge, lack of political will to tackle the problem firmly, insurance companies and the KNR factor, gangster activities, and private maritime security business.

Enisuoh also enumerated the Four-Ds response to the problem, and the limitations.

The Four-Ds are Deterrence, Detection, Detention, and Destruction.

Deterrence, according to him, is “the most peaceful way of dealing with the problem.”

He posited that deterrence required very active maritime administration, creating public awareness, accepting responsibility, creating robust legal framework, demonstrating the willingness to respond, and taking reports seriously.

Describing detection as “the most expensive part of the equation”, Enisuoh said that it was a passive system that required building sea and land-based intelligence network.

Curiously, he said that detection is “cheap and effective, but gives very little room to plan an effective response.”

With Automatic Identification System (AIS) as its component, Enisuoh posited that, as an active system, detection required ship-based equipment to be carried by all ships embarking on international voyages, and to be switched on round-the-clock, and transmitting information containing position, course, speed, and expected time of arrival, etc.

“But the law of carriage allows the Captain to exercise his discretion in situations where the transmitted information may affect the ship,” he said.

He explained that detection included normal shore-based radar system that required very little land space and stable power supply, and abilities to detect relatively- small objects at optimal range, detect objects in zero-visibility conditions, and have its data recorded and transmitted via the Web.

Detection, according to him, “is capital intensive and limited in range by the distance of the sea horizon.”

Still on detection, he said that over-the-horizon shore-based radar systems were active systems, requiring very stable power supply, ability to detect naturally small objects at optimal range, ability to detect objects in zero-visibility conditions, and ability to detect objects beyond the sea horizon.

This system, according to him, is “very capital-intensive, requires large land space, limited in range by the atmospheric ‘F’ layer, highly affected by sea salt, requires a lot of equipment, very difficult to have its data transmitted over the Web, etc.”

On satellite-based radar system component of detection, Enisuoh explained that it is active and requires only solar energy, and has the abilities to detect relatively small objects, detect objects in cloud cover conditions, detect objects within very wide sea horizon, and to have its data recorded and transmitted via the web.

He said that this is “top of the range in terms of being capital intensive, heavily affected by the East-West rotation of the Earth, heavily affected by its North-South Polar orbit, requires a lot of image processing, information obtained is never real time.”

On detention, he said that it is “the most humane way of dealing with the problem”, noting that it is effective in disrupting the business, while those involved live to tell and spread the story, serving as a warning tool to others.

He added that detention “results in legal wrangling, can be costly over a long period, attracts lobbyists, etc.”

Describing destruction as “the most inhumane way of dealing with the problem”, Enisuoh said that it is total destruction of the business, renders swift justice and saves time, but requires very strong legal backin.

Concluding, he lamented that, in spite of all, some would go at length to perpetrate crimes against ships, with tragic consequences.

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