Seafarers have been at the centre of continued attacks orchestrated by pirates. These attacks have not only put several lives at risk but have also impacted the investment climate in the maritime sector.
As in land routes, insecurity in Nigerian waters and the entire Gulf of Guinea has been like a growing wound that has continued to fester.
Consequently, Chinese ships have been directed (by who?) to step up their vigilance in the Gulf of Guinea as part of efforts to check the menace of pirates.
A spokesperson to the Chinese Ministry of Transport, Wu Chungeng, on October 30 said that the ministry had established ‘an ad hoc working group’ to lay down a series of precautionary measures to ensure the security of ocean-going vessels and seafarers, according to reports from Lloyds Maritime Intelligence.
Wu stressed that Chinese-flagged vessels ‘should further enhance precautions against piracy’ when sailing in the Gulf of Guinea.
China is one of the largest exporters of goods to the African region from where it also imports raw materials such as crude oil.
A seafarer, Bob Yousouff, who said the attacks had not affected him directly, narrated a few accounts of colleagues who were dealt with by pirates.
He said, “I don’t think I want to experience it but people closer to me have the experience. One of my friends even got shot. Luckily, they were able to take out the bullet and he is walking fine. The captain and other crew were kidnapped. They paid a ransom before they were released.
“There are incidents of piracy; there are one of two incidents like that, just like the air or road. However, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Navy needs to do more.”