Incidents of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea has come down, following the acquisition of a modern Vessel Traffic Management Information System (VTMIS), Captain Inusah Abdul Nasir, Deputy Director in charge of Environment and Ship Safety at the Ghana Maritime Authority has said.
According to him, piracy is one of the illicit activities that they have been fighting and hitherto, it had been on the increase for a long time.
However, he said, with the establishment of the new equipment, a lot of incidents have come down.
This, Captain Nasir said was because, with the VTMIS, “the pirates know we are watching them so they don’t dare come close to our waters.“
There have been fears that the Gulf of Guinea, which has been Africa’s main maritime piracy hotspot since 2011, could become the world’s most piracy-affected area.
Indeed, the Gulf saw a significant rise in violence at sea in 2016 in contrast to global figures of piracy and armed robbery, which had declined significantly to 191 cases, the lowest level since 1998, which saw 203 incidents.
Speaking during a courtesy call by the management of the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) on the Managing Director of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) in Accra on Wednesday, Captain Nasir compared 2016 incidents to that of the first quarter of 2017.
In 2016, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) recorded 53 attacks or attempted attacks in the Gulf of Guinea – including 36 for Nigeria.
The Gulf of Guinea accounted for more than half of the kidnappings for ransom in 2016, with 34 seafarers kidnapped out of a total of 62 worldwide.
“Last year, we had about 53 incidents of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and they comprised of two incidents of hijacking, where the whole ship was taken up,” Captain Nasir said at the meeting.
In 31 of the cases, he said the pirates boarded the ship and did whatever they wanted to do.
Adding, he said there were 16 attempts, where the Captains did what they could to prevent the pirates from taking over and in four incidents, the ships were fired upon.
In terms of country wise, he said the maximum of the incidents occurred in Nigeria where there were a total of 34 incidents.
Angola had 5, Congo had 5, Benin had two, Togo had one and Ghana had only one incident.
In the first quarter of 2017 however, there were nine incidents, with zero recorded in Ghana. Nigeria has recorded six out of the nine.
Captain Nasir said the most effective party of the VTMIS was that the pirates know “we are watching them so they don’t dare come close to our waters.“
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