Ships transiting the Gulf of Guinea to Nigerian ports lost N75.9 billion ($155 million) in one year to piracy and other illegal activities.
According to a maritime security firm report, Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP), a total cost of war risk area premiums incurred by Nigeria-bound ships transiting the Gulf of Guinea was $55 million in 2020.
The firm added that 35 per cent of ships transiting the area incurred additional kidnap and ran som insurance totaling $100 million, noting that war risk liability covers people and items inside the vessels and was calculated based on the indemnity amount, while war risk hull, which covers the vessel itself, was calculated based on the value of the craft. War risk insurance is a type of insurance that covers damage due to acts of war, including invasion, insurrection, rebellion and hijacking.
Worried by the attacks on ships and crew, a cargo consolidator and Managing Director of Sceptre Consult, Jayeola Ogamode, told New Telegraph that importers were paying the higher freight and insurance charges on the cargoes brought to the country.
He explained that the consumer bore the increasing cost through purchasing the consignments imported at higher prices.
Furthermore, Ogamode stressed that shipment to Africa and the Gulf of Guinea was being reduced due to the increasing attacks by these pirates. In the past, he said that the attacks were on general goods, but had been shifted to bulk petroleum cargoes and exotic goods, adding that the targets of the pirates had been changing over time from snatching cargo to taking hostages for ransom, endangering the lives of crew members.
He noted: “As a country, Nigeria is import dependent; so, if we have this threat cutting off the source of our imports, then we are in real danger.” Meanwhile, the Federal Government has called for the removal of war risk insurance required for cargo vessels that call in the country’s ports.
The Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh, urged the international shipping community to remove the premiums, claiming that the country had demonstrated enough commitment towards tackling maritime insecurity in its territorial waters and the wider Gulf of Guinea.
He explained that the country had launched the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, known as the Deep Blue Project, to tackle the menace of piracy along its coasts, adding that the country had invested $195 million to acquire military and law enforcement infrastructure to secure its maritime domain along the Gulf of Guinea, an area blighted by piracy, armed robbery and other maritime crimes. It would be recalled that the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), the Gulf of Guinea continues to be dangerous for seafarers with 32 per cent of all reported incidents taking place in the region.
It explained that the region accounted for all 50 kidnapped crew and the single crew fatality recorded by IMB Piracy Reporting Centre during the first half of 2021. The bureau said: “In early June, a bulk carrier was approached by a skiff with six pirates while transitioning through the region at around 210nautical Mile (nm) off the coast of Lagos.”
The Bureau’s Director, Michael Howlett, said that seafarers could maintain pressure against pirates by bringing together maritime response authorities through initiatives like Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project and Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum.