Has Deep Blue project helped in suppression of pirates in Gulf of Guinea?
—-an update on piracy incidents in Gulf of Guinea
A U.N. resolution last week condemned piracy in the Gulf of Guinea — the most dangerous piracy hot spot in the world.
Our research finds that piracy incidents in West African waters also tended to be more violent than elsewhere, as fighting on land, especially in and around the Niger Delta, appeared to spill out onto the water, as shown in the figure below.
A January 2021 incident involving the Liberian-flagged ship MV Mozart near São Tomé and Príncipe left one seaman dead.
The incident occurred approximately 180 kilometers off São Tomé Island and 375 kilometers from Nigeria, making it one of the farthest offshore attacks to date in the Gulf of Guinea.
Yet the MV Mozart attack was followed by a dramatic decline in piracy off Nigeria, with incidents in 2021 dropping nearly 50 percent from 2020 levels.
There have been five incidents per month in the first quarter of 2022. What, if anything, has changed?
Improving maritime security
But international aid, regional cooperation and local investments in building maritime security capacity may be finally paying off.
The United States and Europe contribute to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
Funding for port security enhancements, information sharing, law enforcement training and capacity building are all intended to help ensure peace and promote economic prosperity.
E.U. countries and the United States have increasingly deployed naval vessels to the region to combat organized criminal groups targeting commercial transport ships.
The United States hosts multinational naval exercises in the Gulf of Guinea that is meant to improve counter-piracy operations and impede illegal fishing.
Regionally, West African governments have collaborated on efforts to secure the gulf against transnational organized crime.
The compact’s goal is to identify and apprehend criminal groups, protect seafarers and deter would-be pirates.
Fights over marine boundaries are creating safe zones for pirates
Five West African countries have established multinational maritime coordination centers, with additional operational bureaus set up in each of the 19 countries bordering the gulf.
If maritime boundaries once protected illegal fishers and pirates from capture, improved information sharing and subsequent coordinated actions by West African navies now render cross-border escapes more dubious.
Will Deep Blue help?
The Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure project, popularly known as Deep Blue, commits substantial resources to combat piracy, oil theft, smuggling and illegal fishing.
Deep Blue funding has supplied coastal patrol vehicles, interceptor boats and reconnaissance aircraft that all contribute to a vessel-protection mission.
In July 2021, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari also commissioned a surveillance system to provide a comprehensive picture of Nigeria’s maritime environment to inhibit criminal activity.
Additional troops deployed on land in Nigeria may help pursue criminal groups and their assets.
Will Deep Blue work? Bashir Jamoh, Director General of Nigeria’s Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA)credited the deployment of Deep Blue assets for the decline in Gulf of Guinea piracy in 2021.
He also acknowledged assistance from regional governments, the shipping industry and foreign navies.
In August 2020, a Nigerian court sentenced the first three pirates under this law for the hijacking of an Equatorial Guinean cargo ship.
Still, recent counter-piracy operations by European warships don’t appear to have involved the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency — which is somewhat troubling if Nigeria’s new assets and closer communication are key to maritime security in the region.
Ship attacks and crew abductions may be down in West African waters, but the decline can only partly be attributed to Deep Blue.
European and U.S. naval deployments and improved regional collaboration probably matter more when it comes to curbing maritime crime.
Of course, better policing at sea doesn’t address socio-economic challenges on land that help drive piracy.
But addressing these broader challenges, experts point out, will also require assistance from the international community.
Exclusive! Hope rises on take-off of proposed $3bn Badagry Deep Seaport as NPA, APMT resume discussion
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.
Plans for the adjoining Badagry Free Trade Zone will include a power plant, oil refinery, industrial park and warehousing and Inland Container Deport functions.
Jamoh, Bello- Koko, serial award winners, bag National Productivity merit awards
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.
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.
”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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