Abiola Seun |
Nigeria and other countries in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) region will save $777.1million (N280billion at a prevailing rate of N360/$) yearly if piracy and other criminal activities are abated.
According to the United Nations Office On Drugs and Crime (UNODC), total economic cost of piracy in West Africa averaged $777.1 million annually between 2015 and 2017 in addition to the human costs. The economic effects on its trading partners are especially burdensome.
Countries in the GoG are Republic of Benin, Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Aside what the region lost, Nigerian importers would also save additional N330billion yearly if the country water is de-categorised from war risk, a development that would stop the insurance premium slammed on vessels and cargoes destined for Nigeria.
Recall that foreign shipping companies slammed war surcharge premium, a supplementary carrier charge that is only applied when insurance underwriters designate specific zones as war risks.
It covers more than actual wars (invasion, insurrection) including international events that may be escalating toward war, and areas where hijacking (piracy) is prevalent. The surcharge is levied to recover potential extra costs, such as re-routing or additional security.
Also, european shipowners have expressed concern about piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, urging policymakers to undertake concrete action to protect shipping through the region.
The shipowners, basing its call on the latest International Maritime Bureau (IMB)’s Piracy & Armed Robbery Report demonstrated that the Gulf of Guinea has become increasingly dangerous for seafarers.
In the first nine months of 2019, the region accounts for 86% of the 49 crew taken hostage and 82% of the 70 crew kidnapped globally.
“The perilous circumstances in the Gulf of Guinea raise alarm bells for the safety and security of seafarers sailing through that area,” Martin Dorsman, European Community Shipowners Association (ECSA) Secretary General, commented.
“The threats are also putting at risk trade and development both in the region and globally. It is time EU member states step up their efforts to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf.”
However, to put an end to the economic loss and Shipowners concerns, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) organised a Global Maritime Security Confrence to find a lasting solution to the criminal activities in the GoG region.
The confrence however agreed that for criminal activities to abate in the GoG region, states and the international community should put mechanisms in place to ensure that resources that are illegally harvested/explored in the GoG, including stolen oil and Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishery, are intentionally banned as was the case with the ‘blood diamonds’”, the communique said.
The conference called for collaboration among the navies, coast guards, and maritime authorities of countries in the Gulf of Guinea and other continental and international maritime nations.
According to the communique, “GoG States should explore the possibility of designated maritime courts to handle cases of sea robbery, piracy and other maritime offences to ensure quick dispensation of cases.
But, speaking on the confrence aim of abating maritime crimes in the GoG, the executive secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council, Barr. Hassan Bello said reduction in crimes in the GoG will reduce cost of shipping
According to him, Nigeria will follow up the17 points resolutions that would be used to negotiate freight rates with foreign shipping companies.
Bello said, “it is within the context of the effect on the economies of our country that we attended the important international confrence and reduction in cases of Piracy, searobbery will translate into less cost in shipping generally and vice versa but what we are agitating for is that we need transparency from the carrier on how they arrive at certain cost and we also plead with journalists that they report what is happening instead of sensationalising, because the more you talk about piracy , the more the premium goes up.
We have a plan of action, we have a 17 points resolution which is called Abuja declaration, we will follow it up, monitor and coordinate to see that there is reduction so that we have bragging right to tell the carriers that you cannot declare Nigeria unsafe and you cant declare war risk premium on Nigerian bound cargoes,” heard as part of the objectives of the confrence.
Also speaking, the President, Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), Aminu Umar said surcharges are placed on Nigerian bound cargoes because of criminal activities on on Nigeria waters
He said, “The surcharges are based on the fact that there are attacks but if the action plans of the conference is able to debate that there is no piracy, then the surcharge will disappear they will cancel and withdraw the surcharge. Today we are placed on surcharge because there is Piracy happening so we hope that the conference communique will be put into action and the actions resulted into no more pirate attacks then we can look forward that by the end of the year or next year the surcharges are withdrawn but, until piracy stops , this surcharges will continue on us,” he disclosed.
Umar further stated that the communique arrived atvthe conference would bring an end temporary in the GoG region if judiciously implemented.
“Yes, if they follow it and implement it to be letter then I believe it will curtail the issue of pira6ct, those 17 or 15 points if put into action will really solve the problem,” he assured.
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