By Godwin Oritse, with agency report
West African countries lose $2 billion annually to maritime piracy and armed robbery.
This was disclosed by the Ghanaian Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Geoffrey Mawuli Biekro in Accra while presenting a lecture titled, “The Spate of Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea and its impact on the Maritime Industry: The Role of Maritime Educational Institutions”. The lecture was part of the maiden Regional Maritime University alumni homecoming and fundraising event.
Biekro noted that maritime piracy and armed robbery on the African continent mainly took place along the Gulf of Guinea and the Indian Ocean, adding that the prospects of the oil and gas industry was threatened by the activities of maritime pirates and armed robbers at sea and efforts are required to combat the menace.
Biekro said the impact of maritime piracy had direct bearing on economic development of any country and great attention is needed to ensure maritime security around the countries’ territorial waters.
The Chief of Naval Staff said there were efforts by both global and regional bodies to combat maritime piracy, which has resulted in cooperation to provide solutions in that direction.
He said the international maritime organisation was also helping countries with technical support to address some of the challenges associated with maritime piracy.
On the efforts of Ghana towards maritime security, Rear Admiral Biekro said the country has established the marine police unit and has also boosted the fleet of ships for the Navy to improve monitoring of the country’s territorial waters. “The Ghana Navy will continue to seek measures to monitor and address maritime piracy along the West Africa sub-region,” he added.
He said operational collaborations have improved over the years to combat the activities of pirates and armed robbers on the seas. He, therefore, called on maritime institutions to hold workshops on maritime security in the area of law enforcement. He said these institutions needed to collaborate with research agencies to find solutions to the menace in the areas of research.
The event featured the story of Mr Jewel Ahiable, an Electrical Engineer, who was a victim of maritime piracy. He narrated how he and his crew members were captured for 1000 days (Two years, nine months), adding that when the ship was captured by the Somali pirates; they demanded a ransom of 10 million dollars for which the ship owners refused to pay.