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Dryad Global cautions “not yet Uhuru” despite decline in piracy in Gulf of Guinea

Pirates attack in Gulf of Guinea
A maritime risk management company, Dryad Global, has advised the global maritime community, especially the coastal states in the Gulf of Guinea, not to be carried away by the euphoria of the decline in the pirate attacks in the region, urging them to be cautious in their enthusiasm.
The International Maritime Bureau ( IMB) has declared that the Gulf of Guinea witnessed a sharp drop of about 54 per cent in the activities of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea in 2021, the lowest ever recorded in about 17 years.
However, Dryad Global said the stakeholders should not be taken in by these statistics, cautioning that the drop doesn’t mean the pirate threats in the Gulf of Guinea are over.
“A decline last year in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, which has for some time been the epicentre of maritime crime, should be treated with caution and does not mean the threat has disappeared” Dryad Global declared

While Dryad welcomed the significant decline in 2021 of incidents in the region, often involving the violent armed boarding of vessels and the kidnap and ransom of crews, it questioned whether the risk to ships and crews has been reduced.

In 2021, overall incidents of piracy and maritime crime throughout West Africa declined by 54% compared to 2020,  Dryad noted in a recent analysis of maritime security in West Africa.

 Incidents of actual and attempted attacks and vessels being fired upon declined by more than 75% and the overall numbers of vessels boarded throughout the region have fallen by 32%.
 Incidents of vessels being boarded and crews kidnapped have declined by 66%.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) attributed “vigorous action” by authorities as one reason for the drop in piracy.
Last year the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre received 132 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships around the world.
Incidents comprised 115 vessels boarded, 11 attempted attacks, five vessels fired on and one vessel hijacked.

The overall reduction in reported incidents in 2021 is attributed to a decline in activity in the Gulf of Guinea region which saw reported incidents decrease from 81 in 2020 to 34 in 2021.

 Kidnappings at sea dropped 55% in 2021. The Gulf of Guinea continues to account for all kidnapping incidents globally, with 57 crew members taken in seven separate incidents, the IMB noted.

“In assessing trend data alone across the past 11 months, it would be easy, but false, to conclude that a reduction in numbers is indicative of a decline in the threat from piracy and maritime crime in West Africa,” writes Dryad Global’s Head of Intelligence,  Munro Anderson.

Anderson believes that only when capability, opportunity, and intent are disrupted that a sustained reduction in threat is likely to be achieved.

When looking at the reasons for the drop in piracy off West Africa, Dryad sees a significant development being the launch of Nigeria’s highly anticipated ‘Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure programme’, also known as the ‘Deep Blue Project’ (DBP).

This is the first integrated maritime security strategy in West Africa aimed at countering piracy.
Launched on 10 June 2021, it will see the phased deployment of 16 armoured vehicles for coastal patrol, two special mission vessels, 17 fast interceptor boats, two special mission aircraft for surveillance of the country’s exclusive economic zone, three special mission helicopters for search and rescue operations, and four unmanned aerial vehicles.

Further significant development within Nigeria is the launching of the ‘Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offenses (SPOMO) Act’ passed by its National Assembly in 2019, providing a dedicated legislative framework through which to support the prosecution of maritime crime and piracy.

Nigeria has to date shown a willingness to publicly signpost the successful implementation of the SPOMO Act.

 Ubong Essien, Special Assistant on Communication and Strategy to the Director-General of NIMASA, stated that the recent conviction of 10 people for the hijacking of the FV Hailufeng II on 15 May 2020 brought the number of pirates that have been convicted under the SPOMO Act to 20.
With an approximate 16-month timeframe for conviction, the success of such operations within 2021 may not be known until a much later date, Dryad pointed out.

“The DBP and corresponding legislative reform have placed Nigeria in a definitive position of leadership in the fight against piracy and maritime crime within the Gulf of Guinea.

“However, despite the commendable efforts of Nigeria, the absence of data indicating a tangible and sustained engagement of assets in the interruption of offshore acts of piracy suggests that the launch of the DBP and the implementation of the SPOMO Act is far from solely responsible for the dramatic decline in piracy throughout the region,” Anderson writes.

In seeking to explain the steep decline in piracy throughout the Gulf of Guinea, Dryad looked at the role of intent, which it said is primarily driven by poverty.

 Additional factors include unemployment, weak governance, corruption, community violence and militancy, established subgroup hostility to the state and the presence of established organised crime.
All of these drive disenfranchised young men from riverine and coastal communities towards serious organised crime and piracy.

Anderson believed that additional security resources seldom deter pirates and in Somalia, groups of disenfranchised young men were only incentivised away from piracy following the launch of onshore programmes of economic development and reform.

“Throughout 202,  there has been little substantive improvement in these core conditions throughout the disparate communities of Niger Delta states.

“A situation further compounded by the impact of the COVID pandemic on national resources and international assistance.
 2021 has seen an increase in riverine criminality involving attacks on local populations and riverine communities and a new militant grouping under the aegis of the Bayan-Men has unleashed a campaign of violence and disorder against multinational oil companies within the region, motivated by a perceived lack of community incentive and involvement,” Dryad noted.

“Consequently, without improvement in the conditions onshore that create a fertile setting for piracy, it is near impossible to argue that there has been any alteration or deterrence against individuals’ intent to engage in piracy” Dryad declared.

Piracy is essentially a form of serious organised crime and one of its hallmarks is its ability to occupy the ‘grey space’ between legitimate and legal enterprise and criminal network, with members often occupying official positions in business or local government.

Within the southern Delta states, this ‘grey space’ of legitimacy is deeply ingrained, Anderson believed.
“Ingrained corruption and ineffectual governance have given rise to a vast network of criminality that spans narcotics and pharmaceutical product smuggling, illegal fuel bunkering, militancy, and piracy.”

With the launch of the $195 million, Deep Blue Project came a substantial level of political focus, both domestic and international.

“Such a focus is highly likely to have had a detrimental impact on the freedom of movement and operations of those who occupy the described grey space of legitimacy in the southern Delta states.
” With Nigeria calling for an end to war risk premiums for vessels operating in its waters, there is a great deal of political investment in the success of the DBP, and it is highly likely that this investment has translated into a hostile operating environment for any would-be ‘sponsor’ of offshore piracy,” Anderson noted.

“It could be argued that the intensity of the political focus, which has created an increasingly hostile environment for would-be piracy sponsors, has reduced piracy, via the ‘back door’ and regardless of cause, the effect is to be welcomed.

” However, such assumptions would be false. The criminality of this nature has a fluidity that is likely to adapt and overcome political pressure and will most likely lead to a return to high volumes of piracy as political focus wanes.”

In conclusion, Dryad believed the decline in piracy in 2021 should not be seen as indicative of any fundamental or lasting change brought about by any one state or initiative.

“Claims of radically reduced risks within such a short timeframe and calls for the ending of war risk premiums are premature.
” Whilst regional counter-piracy efforts in 2021 are to be commended, they require long term investment, both politically and financially, with onshore investment arguably of greater importance than offshore assets.”

Similarly, the IMB urged seafarers to continue exercising caution and vigilance in spite of a drop in attacks.

 The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre warned the threat to seafarers persists and continues to urge crews and vessels plying Gulf of Guinea waters to be cautious.
 This is because perpetrators are violent and the risk to crews remains high. Evidence of this was the kidnapping of six crew members from a container vessel in mid-December.

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Exclusive! Hope rises on take-off of proposed $3bn Badagry Deep Seaport as NPA, APMT resume discussion


The eyewitness reporter
Barring any last-minute hitches, the proposed Badagry deep seaport project may soon be on the stream as the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has resumed discussions with the lead promoter of the multi-billion project, APM Terminals’ Global investment limited.
The investors/ promoters led a team to the NPA headquarters last Wednesday where they met with Mohammed Bello-Koko, the NPA Managing Director, and his management team.
The discussion centered on the take-off of the Badagry project which was conceived in 2016 to take the pressure off the overstretched Lagos ports.
The investment team was led by Martjin Van Dongen, the Global Head, Business Development of APM Terminals Global investment limited.
An elated Bello- Koko revealed that the two teams discussed how to optimize the potentials of the Badagry Deep Seaport.
“Discussions focused on optimizing the potentials of the upcoming Badagry Deep Seaports and other new ports as NPA Management intensifies action toward the vision to make Nigeria the maritime logistics hub for sustainable port services in Africa”
It could be recalled that the Federal government in 2016 conceived the idea of developing deep seaports in the country to position Nigeria as the hub of maritime activities in the West African sub-region.
The proposed deep sea ports project include Lekki deep sea port, which has already taken off, the Ondo deep sea port, Ibom Deep seaport and Badagry deep seaport.
While preparations for the takeoff of both the Ondo and Ibom sea ports projects are in top gear, that of the Badagry project was initially bogged down by technicalities and disagreement between the NPA and the promoters of the project.
The Badagry deep seaport project is an initiative of a consortium led by APM Terminals, Orlean Invest, Oando, Terminal Investment Ltd and Macquarie.
However, in November 2012, APM Terminals and its consortium partners announced plans to develop the Badagry deep seaport.
In 2020, the NPA disclosed that the promoters paid $500,000 as a commitment deposit into an escrow account to signify their commitment towards the port project.
However, the NPA kicked against the initial Outline Business Case for the port, which has been reviewed to include the suggestions of the Ports Authority.
The Federal Government however has approved a concession arrangement for the development of the Badagry deep seaport project over a period of 45 years.

The approval was finalised following a presentation by the Federal Ministry of Transportation at the Federal Executive Council (FEC)  during the last administration of President Mohammed Buhari.

According to officials, the port is expected to generate $53.6 billion in revenue over the 45 years concession period.

The proposed site of the project is located 55km west of Apapa and the port of Lagos, along the 55km long Lagos-Badagry Expressway, which is being upgraded from a four-lane to a ten-lane expressway.

The port is expected to have an annual throughput capacity of 1.8 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs).

The proposal for the project was announced in 2012. Feasibility studies have been completed and construction works are yet to start.

The project will be implemented in four phases, with the overall project cost estimated to range between $2 billion and $3 billion.

Also, it is expected that the new port will primarily ease pressure on the existing ports of Lagos, Apapa and Tin-Can Ports, which handle approximately 85 percent of the country’s non-oil throughput.

It will further alleviate the burden on the country’s existing ports, which are on the verge of exceeding their cargo handling capacities, and address the country’s annual container traffic, which is expected to grow to 10 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units by 2030.

When fully built, the deep-water full-service port will be one of the largest in Africa with 7km of quay and 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) of dedicated yard. It will include state-of-the-art facilities for container, bulk, liquid bulk, Ro/Ro and general cargo as well as oil and gas operations support and a barge terminal.

Plans for the adjoining Badagry Free Trade Zone will include a power plant, oil refinery, industrial park and warehousing and Inland Container Deport functions.

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Jamoh, Bello- Koko, serial award winners, bag National Productivity merit awards

Bello-Koko, Jamoh, NPOM award winners
 The eyewitness reporter

The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, is gradually turning into a serial award winner as he has landed yet another plaque of honour from the federal government.

Not left in the harvest of awards which was a reflection of their value-addition in their various endeavours is Mohammed Bello-Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) who is also a recipient of the National Productivity Diadem and a fellow serial awards winner.
Added to the already crowded roll call of honours of Jamoh is the National Productivity Merit Award conferred on him by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity to recognize the invaluable contributions of the NIMASA DG to the development of the maritime industry.
To underscore his sterling leadership qualities as the DG of NIMASA and his roles in the current revolutionary trend in the maritime industry, the federal government nominated Dr Jamoh as a recipient of the 2021 National Productivity Order of Merit, NPOM, Award.
In a letter of the award signed by Dr Nasir Olaitan Raji-Mustapha, the Director General/CEO of the National Productivity Centre, Abuja, there are five categories of the awards.
Jamoh was listed among the 35 recipients under the category of 2021 Individual Awardees while Bello-Koko was listed among the 36 recipients under the category of 2022 Individual Awardees.
To share the limelight with Jamoh in this same category of the award is the Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the Agency, Hon. Chudi Offodile, while the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani will share from the euphoria with Bello-Koko under the same category of  2022 recipients of the award.
The official conferment ceremony is scheduled for Monday, June 5, 2023.

An excited Jamoh expressed appreciation to the Federal Government, noting that it is a call to greater service to our Fatherland.“I am spurred by this award, particularly as it is coming from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, which underscores the ministry’s role in ensuring reward for hard work and productivity in public service”

“Let me also use this opportunity to dedicate the award to the industry’s stakeholders; external and internal, as they have made our work easier as an administration.

“We will continue to strive to make the maritime sector a viable economic driver, especially with the Blue Economy mantra, which is critical to the sustainability of the maritime sector”, Jamoh said.

Commenting the on the selection of the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, the DG said it is a well-deserved honour, as she has remained a core professional and astute administrator in the coordination of activities in the Ministry and the Agencies under the supervision of the Ministry.

“I am not surprised by her selection, as she is an administrator par excellence and has remained resolute and professional in the discharge of her duties.

“Little wonder she is commonly referred to as the “Head Mistress” of the Ministry and the Maritime Sector”. I congratulate her on the well-deserving award.
In the same vein, the NPA MD expressed appreciation to the Federal government for the award and said that the recognition will further spur him on to put in his best in his resolve to turn the rich maritime potentials of the country into actualities.
”I will like to express my profound appreciation to the Federal Government for the honour of being conferred with the National Productivity Order of Merit Award.

”This conferment can only spur me and the entire team at the Nigerian Ports Authority whose commitment to exceptional performance culminated in this recognition, to continue pushing the limit and advancing the frontiers of trade facilitation.

”Imbued with the understanding that excellence is a moving target, I want to seize this moment to assure that we will not rest on our laurels in our resolve to turn our rich maritime potentials into actualities’, an elated Koko declared.

The National Productivity Order of Merit Award was instituted by the Federal Government of Nigeria to recognize and honour productive individuals and organizations in Nigeria in the year of the award for achievements made in the preceding years.

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Shippers’ Council bestows on APMT certificate of registration as regulated service provider at ports

Emmanuel Jime
The eyewitness reporter
AP Moller Terminals led by its Vice President, Mr. Martijn Van Dongen, has led a four-man delegation of the company to the management of the Shippers’Council to receive recognition as a certified regulated service provider at the Nigerian Ports.
This recognition was bestowed on the terminal operators during the visit of his top management staff to the economic regulatory agency at Apapa Friday.
Dongen said the essence of the visit was to strengthen collaboration with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, the port’s economic regulator.
APMT received its certificate to operate as a regulated service provider during the visit.
Chinenye Deinde, the Legal Adviser and Head of Corporate Affairs of APMT also called on NSC to pursue the National Transport Commission (NTC) Bill, stating that it has the potential to sanitize the maritime sector.
In his response, the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of NSC, Rt. Honourable Emmanuel Jime said that the Shippers’ Council is working on the review of its enabling Act which he believes will strengthen the agency in its role as port economic regulator.
According to him, the Federal Government is committed to making Nigeria an investment haven for foreign investors while encouraging local entrepreneurs to be creative in growing the economy.
“The strategic location of this country on the African continent makes it a trigger for investments”, the NSC ES/CEO concluded.
Mr. Dongen was accompanied on the visit by Mr. Klaus Holm Laursen, Head of Joint Ventures, Africa and Europe, Mrs. Chinenye Deinde, Legal Adviser & Head, Corporate Affairs, APMT as well as Mr. Frederick Klinke, MD, APMT Nigeria.
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