The International Chambers of Shipping, (ICS) has opposed the insinuation that shipping firms and crewmen are allegedly involved in organised maritime crimes.
Speaking at the on-going Global Maritime Security Conference taking place in Abuja, a Senior Advisor at the chamber, Mr. Helio Vicente said that industry representatives at the conference were disappointed to hear allegations of shipping companies' involvement in maritime crimes with a view to increasing freight rates and insurance premium.
Vicente also said that suggestions that shipping firm’s employees, who are known to be seafarers are also involved in such crimes.
He stated that the ICS refutes these allegations, adding that the safety and security of these seafarers is of utmost concern to the ICS.
He said: "Unfortunately, while the various panel discussion yesterday were for the most part constructive and insightful, the impact of maritime insecurity on seafarers who are indispensable to seaborne trade in the Gulf of Guinea and other regions of the world was sadly overcooked”
"Industry representatives in the audience were disappointed to hear allegations of suspicion that shipping could in any way be involved in any of these cases, reportedly to increase freight rates and insurance premium.
"These were also suggestions that shipping company employees, which we understood to mean seafarers should be vetted to ensure that they are not complicit on some of these acts.
"We completely refute this and must therefore emphasize that at the very top of our concerns in any such incident is the safety and security of these brave men and women, who continue to be attacked and put at risk as they go about their legitimate business.
"We all recognize much more needs to be done to support seafarers. "Since 2007, several thousands of them have taken hostage in various incidents globally, some of whom are subjected to extreme violence and prolonged captivity.
"On behalf of the shipping industry and all seafarers and I know that a seafarers' union representative as part of the International Transport Workers Federation is here with us today- we are compelled to emphasize that there is no evidence whatsoever to support these accusations, which only serve to divide us, not unite us.
Harping on the need for mutual trust among players in the chain of shipping, he noted that, “at a time when, as noted by various panelists yesterday, the level of trust among the various stakeholders requires improvement instead of being eroded.
"This conference provides a unique platform for a unified message from the Maritime sector as a whole against maritime insecurity and their root causes.
"The industry therefore sincerely hopes that this will be the spirit of the conference conclusions. A spirit of cooperation among all stakeholders, in the knowledge that ultimately we are all seeking to achieve the same goal."