Transport

Gulf of Guinea still at risk of piracy attacks, IMB warns

  • Canvasses enhancement of maritime security

By ADAKU WALTER

International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has warned that the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) remains susceptible to piracy attacks and kidnapping of crew members despite the purported decline in crime rate.

It stated this in its latest global piracy report, maintaining that seafarers in West African waters were at risk following armed robbery incidents within the anchorage waters of Angola and Ghana, as well as the hijacking of product tankers off the coast of Cote de’ Ivoire, in which no fewer than 17 crew were held hostage in the first quarter of 2022, The Trumpet gathered.

According to the International piracy reporting centre, although, Gulf of Guinea saw a welcomed decline in the number of reported incidents, the seven incidents that happened this first quarter of the year raises fear for imminent attacks.

The centre also noted that the first three months of 2022 witnessed 37 incidents of piracy and armed robbery attacks at sea worldwide, compared to the 38 incidents in the same period of last year.

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It stated that of the number of incidents recorded during the first quarter of 2022, 41 per cent occurred in Southeast Asian waters, particularly in the Singaporean Straits, adding that the development was becoming most dangerous for commercial shipping.

The IMB also noted that no fewer than four incidents were reported off the coasts of Indonesia and Malaysia, compared to two in the same period of 2021.

According to the IMB, Peruvian waters are an area of concern, noting that the South American nation’s ports accounted for 27 per cent of global incidents, with 10 reported events and six in the Callao anchorage, compared to five incidents during the same period last year and only one in 2019.

The centre stated that three incidents were also reported in the Macapa anchorage, off the coast of Brazil, in which seafarers were either threatened with knives or abducted, tied up and blindfolded with burlap, while their hostage lasted.

It added that although no incidents were reported in the Gulf of Aden, the threat of piracy still existed in the Yemeni and Somali coasts, as well as the waters off the Southern Red Sea.

Director of IMB, Michael Howlett, acknowledged the efforts being made by maritime authorities in the Gulf of Guinea region, as well as the regional and international navies towards the reducing the attacks.

“In most of the incidents, the perpetrators are armed, putting crew at risk even in the low-level opportunistic incidents. As such, coastal states and independent international navies are urged to increase efforts aimed at identifying and apprehending the criminals to enhance maritime security and facilitate safer trade across the important and strategic waterways,” Howlett said.

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