West Africa’s waters, most dangerous – IMB


Tayo Oladipupo

The latest report of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has indicted West African seas, saying it is the most dangerous for piracy.

The report stated that 62 out of the 75 seafarers taken hostage onboard or kidnapped for ransom worldwide so far in 2019, were captured in the Gulf of Guinea

The kidnaps were said to have taken place off the coasts of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon.

The report however indicated a drop in the degree of piracy attacks in Nigeria in comparison with 2018 figures while also commending the Nigerian Navy for improved response to attacks in the region.

While 107 incidents were recorded in 2018, only 78 were recorded first half of this year indicating a good reduction in the frequency of piracy attacks

The report stated that ”Worldwide, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) recorded 78 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the first half of 2019, compared with 107 incidents for the same period of 2018. Overall, 57 vessels were boarded successfully, representing 73% of all attacks.

”Pirates killed one person, took 38 crew members hostage, and kidnapped a further 37 for ransom.

”The report reveals 73% of all kidnappings at sea, and 92% of hostage-takings, took place in the Gulf of Guinea. Armed pirates in these high-risk waters kidnapped 27 crew members in the first half of 2019, and 25 in the same period in 2018.

”Two chemical tankers were hijacked, as well as a tug that was then used in another attack. Of the nine vessels fired upon worldwide, eight were off the coast of Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer. These attacks took place on average 65 nautical miles off the coast – meaning they are classified as acts of piracy.

”But there are some encouraging signs of improvement. IMB PRC reports “a welcome and marked decrease” in attacks in the Gulf of Guinea for the second quarter of 2019, commending the Nigerian navy for actively responding to reported incidents by dispatching patrol boats. While recognizing that many attacks go unreported, IMB recorded 21 incidents around Nigeria so far in 2019, down from 31 in the same period of 2018.”

”Naval vessels from Equatorial Guinea and Spain also intervened in May 2019 when a Nigerian tug was hijacked 41 nautical miles off Luba, Equatorial Guinea. Soon after, the pirates used the tug to launch an attack on a Maltese heavy load carrier. The crew retreated into the ship’s citadel, a safe room for protection against attackers. When the navies responded, the pirates left the vessel and the crew were freed. The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre thanks the naval vessels for their prompt assistance.”

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