Global maritime insurers say Nigeria’s coastal waters which recorded the highest piracy rates in 2020 remains the riskiest despite efforts by the Federal Government to deal with the growing piracy like the Deep Blue Project.
This was disclosed last week in a report by Bloomberg after interviewing a member of the Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA) which identifies and resolves issues that are of particular interest to the global underwriting community.
Neil Roberts, Head of Marine at the LMA said the recent efforts by the FG are “not enough to fill crews, owners or insurers with confidence.”
“There is an enhanced risk to ships and crews and, until that has clearly been removed, Nigeria will remain a Listed Area,” he told Bloomberg.
The LMA’s Joint War Committee which compiles the riskiest places for insurers added the Gulf of Guinea as a “listed area.”
In its Annual Piracy report, the International Maritime Bureau reported that West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea recorded an unprecedented increase in piracy attacks in 2020.
The Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) received 195 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships worldwide, in comparison to 162 in 2019. The incidents included three hijacked vessels, 11 vessels fired upon, 20 attempted attacks, and 161 vessels boarded, 135 crew members were kidnapped from their vessels in 2020, with the Gulf of Guinea accounting for over 95% kidnapped. A record of 130 crew members were kidnapped in 22 separate incidents.
Recall that, this month, President Buhari launched the Deep Blue Project under the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection, in Lagos, a move that is meant to protect Nigeria’s waterways.
The project has 16 armoured vehicles for coastal patrol, 600 specially trained troops for interdiction, known as Maritime Security Unit, two Special Mission Vessels and 17 Fast Interceptor Boats and others.
But, the Director General, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh last weekend, restated his calls that, the international Communities should suspend the application of War Risk Insurance on Nigeria-bound cargoes.
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Speaking during a media briefing to mark the 2021 Day of the Seafarer, he expressed worry over the continued collection, since the deployment of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure also known as the Deep Blue Project. He argued that, with the deployment of the maritime assets, continued collection is unjustifiable.
The NIMASA DG who acknowledged that Nigeria’s reputation has been in question because of the incessant attack in the Gulf of Guinea prior to the deployment of the deep blue assets, urged the international community to go back to the bench mark and tick areas where the country has done well in other to remove the war risk premium
He argued that Nigeria’s maritime trade is threatened and at a loss due to the increasing war risk insurance premium paid by Nigeria-bound vessels.
He further said since the deployment of the deep blue project assets in February, there had been a steady decline in piracy attacks in the Nigerian waters on a monthly basis.
He informed that in February, the country recorded zero attack, while in March, the country just one attack,
Jamoh further assured that the agency will continue to eliminate the stigma given to Nigeria since the deployment of the deep blue asset, adding that the agency will continue to have sleepless night until the country is free from piracy.
According to him “We are trying to eliminate the stigma given to Nigeria since we have achieved this milestone, since the deployment of the deep blue project assets in February, there had been a steady decline in piracy attacks in the Nigerian waters on a monthly basis.
“The international community should consider not charging Nigeria War Risk Insurance Charges, they need to go back to the bench mark and tick where we have done well and remove the War Risk Insurance Premium.
“If today, they remove the War Risk Insurance, each and every Nigeria will benefit from it. We therefore urge the international shipping community to rethink the issue of war risk insurance on cargo bound for our ports. Nigeria has demonstrated enough commitment towards tackling maritime insecurity