A lack of security off the coast of Nigeria threatens seafarers as well as the UK economy, according to a UK Chamber of Shipping study.
Due to be published today, the report shows that maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea exposes almost all of the UK’s GBP6.3 billion (about N1.8 trillion) annual trade with the region to risks, including 12% of oil imported into the UK.
The study also states that ships in the region are attacked at least once per week, with a significant proportion of the attacks unreported. Over the past 10 years 45 seafarers have been killed and 459 held hostage in the region and, for 2013, 60% of attacks were within Nigerian territorial waters, where foreigners are forbidden from carrying weapons, complicating the operations of security companies.
“Most people are aware of pirate activity off Somalia, but lawlessness in the Gulf of Guinea is a major threat to our seafarers, the UK’s energy and trade security, and to the economic development of the region,” said Guy Platten, chief executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping
“Nigeria and other states in the region have known for 30 years that piracy was a problem, but too little has been done and enough is enough.
“The lack of security in the region costs Nigeria GBP7.2 billion (N2 trillion) a year in oil theft alone, which shows criminal activity is severely hampering the region’s potential for prosperity. Put simply, these countries will remain poor until their maritime security issues are tackled,” he said.
Platten went on to acknowledge the economic benefits in Ghana and Togo since efforts were made to improve their maritime security through investments in security patrols, adding that, “Nigeria, however, lags behind and has done very little – and it is costing them and us dear.”