Nigeria not winning war against Piracy, says Master Mariners


The Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) has said that contrary to opinion held by some government agencies, Nigeria is not winning the war against piracy.

The President of NAMM, Capt. Tajudeedn Alao who stated this in an interview with our correspondent in Lagos recently noted that the problem of piracy had been there arguing that the ISPS code which was conceived after the 9/11 attack was not designed to stop piracy as it was purely aimed at using shipping to achieve political attention, weapon of mass destruction and things like that.

He said, “In our own clime, what is practicable? I believe we can put two things together and that is we can put the search and rescue unit, we need a platform to do this job offshore. So, this same platform can be used for patrol in our own clime otherwise they are going to provide the Navy with platforms to use though it is not their job. The job of the Navy is to protect the territorial integrity of the nation and that is why you see the Coast Guard all over the world separate from their fighting Navy. So, if we can provide them with five hundred patrol boats, there is no way anybody can go offshore.”

He continued, “First of all, they destroyed our shipping industry, it is gone, now they are attacking foreign ships coming, paying insurance premium on ships coming to Nigeria, they go onboard, attack containers. So, there are many things we need to combat piracy, we are not doing enough. When you talk of Gulf of Guinea, it is international waters; all we need is collaboration with other powers because they have interest.

“For our own waters, the Exclusive Economic Zone, our coast, we need many patrol boats to keep the Navy, Immigration and Customs busy and if our income is high coming from maritime, we should be able to start paying some percentage of that money to secure the water.

“It is to do the right thing, there is no sincerity, if our survival depends on this water, there are solutions. We should work that solution because there are no problems without solution.”

Speaking on the justifiability of war risk charge slammed on Nigerian bound cargo by the shipping companies; he observed that “there is ISPS Code which just came into force. Risk in any form, the Gulf of Guinea is the same as Somali waters, it is not like Mauritania, so, what you think is not war, in shipping terminology, it is war.

“Ship on charter came to Nigeria, you went and take all the crew, they have to look for other crew to take the ship away. It is war risk. So, that is why when a ship that is carrying cargo this way, for you to agree, freight rate must be high because the expenses on the ship owner will be higher that there has to be insurance for the risk.

“It is justifiable, it is likened to when we say that any ship coming to Nigeria will pay wreck insurance because you find out that in some cases, ship will be detained and the ship will become wreck and the government will clear the wreck which is an additional burden. So, if you have insurance, it is an additional cost on affreightment.”

On plans to make Nigeria shipping hub, he Capt. Alao said, “I look at it from what we had in the past. The deliberate action is not there on the part of government to make Nigeria a shipping hub. There must be a deliberate action. Nigeria is not a shipping hub, for five to ten years now, we have been but the activity itself is not there. In fact, we deliberately discouraged ships coming to stay on our waters on the ground that they are coming to do illegal business and drove them to Cotonou and those people benefited.”

Photo: President NAMM, Capt. Tajudeen Alao.

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