Piracy: Nigeria and shipping industry launch strategy to eliminate piracy threat in Gulf of Guinea

Piracy: Nigeria and shipping industry launch strategy to eliminate piracy threat in Gulf of Guinea

Piracy remains a major risk in the shipping industry. With increasing numbers of cases worldwide and measures put in place to curb the act of piracy, the Gulf of Guinea has re-emerged as the global piracy hotspot. In a recent report by the Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty (AGCS); a leading global corporate and insurance carrier, the region has accounted for 90% of global kidnappings reported at sea in 2019, with the number of crew taken increasing by more than 50 percent to 121.

The report further stated that, Somalia reported zero piracy incidents in 2019 through to the beginning of 2020 which depicted the recent success in tackling Somali pirates in the region. However, despite the success rate, Somali pirates continue to possess the capacity to carry out attacks in the Somali basin and wider Indian Ocean.  The report stated a decreasing number of worldwide armed robbery and piracy attacks on ships from 201 in 2018 to 162 in 2019 mostly with increased attacks on tankers, container ships and bulk carriers. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported 47 attacks in the first three months of the year 2020; up from 38 in the same period last year. Although there were increasing pirate attacks in Latin America and five vessels boarded by pirates in the Singapore Strait, the Gulf of Guinea still accounted for the highest number of attacks (21).

In April 2020, the Portugal-flagged container ship Tommi Ritscher became the latest vessel attacked by pirates and eight (8) crew members kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea while at anchorage at Cotonou, Benin. This was followed by the kidnapping of other nine (9) crew members from the tanker Alpine Penelope in the same area during February 2020.

The recent global corona virus pandemic is said to have the potential of endangering the long-term safety improvements in the shipping industry for the year and beyond. According to Baptiste Ossena, Global Product Leader Hull Insurance, AGCS, “Coronavirus has struck at a difficult time for the maritime industry as it seeks to reduce its emissions; navigate issues such as climate change, political risks and piracy; and deals with ongoing problems such as fires on vessels,”.  He added that, “Now the sector also faces the task of operating in a very different world, with the uncertain public health and economic implications of the pandemic,”.

“Piracy remains an ongoing issue. We thought we had a handle on it but it has manifested yet again,” says Captain Rahul Khanna, Global Head of Marine Risk Consulting at AGCS. “Hijackings by Somalian pirates may have reduced for now, but incidents have been increasing in West Africa and parts of Asia, where we see a worrying pattern of violent attacks against crew, as well as kidnappings.”

Given heightened political and economic uncertainty in the world today, piracy is a threat that is likely to remain for the foreseeable future, if not increase, Khanna added.

Source: Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty report on Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea

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