Piracy: Shipowners query relevance of sea protection levy by NIMASA


The Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) has questioned the continued collection of the sea protection levy from ships operating on the Nigerian waters by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

This came on the heels of increasing piracy attacks on ships passing through the Gulf of Guinea by Nigerian pirates.

The President of NISA, Alhaji Aminu Umar who disclosed this in a chat with newsmen in Lagos said that the continued collection of the levy was not justifiable more so as they face those attacks regularly in the Gulf of Guinea.

Umar who described the situation as unfortunate especially when the attacks were being carried out almost at the same location on a regular basis informed that he had made some personal calls to the Naval Chief of Operations whenever things like that happened adding that they were going to take it up with the government.

“It shows that this thing has been happening actually in one area, it has always been happening in the same area. Unfortunately, we have to engage the people that are concerned which is the Nigerian Navy on how is it that this thing is stopped. I

“It is unfortunate that all of us, every shipowner in Nigeria is paying what is called sea protection levy and then we are facing all these problems. So, we are paying that levy to ensure that every ship that comes into this country is protected. We are paying the money to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

“So, if there is nobody doing it, where is our money going to? Somebody is collecting the money and pocketing it. If we are paying that money and it is not safe for us to carry on with our business, then why are we paying the money? I think the agency, Hon. Dakuku Peterside has taken over now, please let him look at it and we will make presentations to him to really look at it because we are really facing a lot of trauma and every evening or every day, we receive this alert of piracy attack on ship transiting the Gulf of Guinea”, he said.

He observed that the attacks not only gave the country a bad name but also the trauma they had to face each time their ships as well as their crew members were taken was unbearable adding that it was not an experience anybody would wish he had even as he disclosed that the development was putting the shipowners in a very bad or disadvantaged situation.

According to Umar,” Today, with these attacks, our war risk insurance has gone up and an e-mail I received was coming from an insurance broker informing us that our war risk insurance has gone up because these attacks has continued for one week.  Not only that, the crews that are ready to work with you, their countries will start telling them don’t go to Nigeria, don’t even allow your ship to try to transit Nigerian waters. Unfortunately, I can tell you we cannot quantify the loss that will come financially on all of us. We will write to the government and take it up once again with them because it is so bad”.

The NISA boss reiterated that the situation was now more worrisome as the attacks had moved from the small vessels to crude tankers saying that this development was going to be a very bad one not only for the shipowners but to the entire country as over 90% of the Nigerian revenue depended on those crude tankers loading even as he added that if those crude tankers could not find it safe to come and load in Nigeria, there would be no reason for them to come to Nigeria.

On the anti-piracy bill being put together by NIMASA, Umar who acknowledged that the bill when passed would contribute in curtailing the menace of the pirates on the Nigerian waters however said that the major thing was for the relevant government agencies in charge of keeping the waters safe to make sure that their equipment and men were within those areas so as to make them safe.

“So, the anti-piracy bill will also contribute as it will make prosecution of arrested pirates easy. But as shipowners, whatever bill that will bring down the piracy attacks that are happening in nth Gulf of Guinea is something that we will always support. What we need is peaceful business activity and not a situation that every evening or night, you don’t sleep; you sit close to your mat or close to your chair and start praying. So, this is what we are facing today”, he said.

While ruling out compromise on the part of the government agencies in charge of keeping the waters safe, he however noted that there was no difference in terms of cost to the shipowners when the job was contracted out to a private company as they still pay the same levy that they paid during that time today.

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