SEA PIRACY AND SECURITY CHALLENGES OF MARITIME BUSINESS OPERATION IN BAYELSA STATE

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Introduction

No fewer than 80 percent of world’s trade carried out globally travels by sea. This represents around 93,000 merchant vessels, 1.25 million seafarers and almost six billion tons of cargo yearly (Bowden, 2010).These figures show an increase in seaborne trade in recent times. Presently, the International Communities have witnessed one of the world’s oldest crimes against sea trade- sea piracy. In the main, African waters harbor important seaways of growing maritime concerns, namely the Coast of the Horn of Africa (HoA) and the Gulf of Aden (GoA); East Coast of Africa, and the Gulf of Guinea (GoG); West Coast of Africa. These waterways and availability of ports have becomes mine field for sea pirates. From 2007 to date, maritime operators have witnessed intense attacks. The attacks have been largely concentrated in waters off the coast of Nigeria and Somalia. In view of this, Nincic (2009) avers that maritime insecurity in Africa and in Nigeria waters in particular, has grown at a disturbing rate and threatens the global flow of goods and services across the world’s shipping lines. To Potgieter (2009), this portrays a pervasive maritime insecurity and a threat to economic growth in Africa.

Consequently, the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) and the surrounding ports and waterways suffer from a substantial amount of maritime criminal activities, ranging from illegal fishing, to robbery and militant activities against commercial assets. In Nigeria, piracy and maritime militant activities are particularly prevalent in the waters and around the coast of the Niger Delta. It ranges from poaching and robbery especially in the waters off Lagos and within its ports, to attacks on ship and offshore facilities and the hijacking of vessels for ransom notably in the area near the Niger Delta including the Bayelsa waterways, Utawa – Opobo, Opobo- Andoni and Oron-Calabar waterways in Rivers and Akwa Ibom States.

SEA PIRACY AND SECURITY CHALLENGES OF MARITIME BUSINESS OPERATION IN BAYELSA STATE