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In a terse circular sent to its indigenous ship owners and shipping companies, India’s Directorate General of Shipping in Mumbai has warned them to avoid Nigeria and Gulf of Guinea on grounds of increasing rate of piracy and hijacking of crew for ransom in Nigerian waters.
The warning read in parts: “Piracy and armed robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea are becoming more violent with a greater tendency to attack, hijack and rob vessels as well as kidnap crew, in the waters of Gulf of Guinea.”
“The attacks were reported up to 170 nautical miles from the coast and many included vessel hijacking, ransacking and theft. Additionally, the latest incidents resulted in crew members being injured, kidnapped and in certain occasions taken ashore for ransom.
Whereas the Nigerian Maritime Safety and Administration’s (NIMASA) Director General, Dr Dakuku Peterside, has continued to claim that Nigerian waters are safe, IMO 10-year Report said the total number of incidents in West Africa, from January 2009 to December 2018, stood at 555.
India Government argued that based on the two recent incidents, “it has come to the attention of this Directorate that foreign nationals, especially Indian seafarers, are being selectively targeted during such piracy/armed robbery incidents.”
Recall that the shipping industry, along with seafarer groups in the Gulf of Guinea, have been calling for action against the ongoing issue of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Indian Directorate General of Shipping added that “The high level of piracy and armed robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea is not acceptable. Yet it is happening every day and this is not business as usual. We need to take urgent action now.”
Only recently, Chair of the UK Shipping Defence Advisory Committee and Vice President of Shell Shipping & Maritime, Dr. Grahaeme Henderson, revealed to experts at a symposium on Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea, that “Concerns raised by the industry were supported by figures from the International Maritime Bureau showing that the number of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea region had doubled in 2018. There has also been a marked increase towards kidnapping for ransom and armed robbery incidents”.
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