• Rob Ships Shot Captain, Crew
• NPA, Navy Panics
Last week will remain an unforgettable one for captains, crew and owners of some ships which arrived in Lagos ports. At least four of the fully laden ships which had arrived earlier in the week with assorted cargoes were attacked by daredevil sea robbers while awaiting berthing formalities.
Sources that are very close to the ship owners, shipping agents and terminal operators confirmed to our correspondent that the gale of attacks started on Sunday (June 26, 2009) and went unchecked until Tuesday when the Nigerian Navy reportedly mobilised to repel the onslaught.
Shipping Position Weekly can confirm the attack on both Valdivia and Master Ricos, among the almost 25 ships that were awaiting berthing in the port. The shipping agents to the two ill-fated ships are: Allison and Hamadah respectively.
Although no one (including security agents, Nigerian Ports Authourity, the ship agents and crew) was willing to comment on the attacks, our correspondent however gathered that the two ships were attacked on Monday night after the pirates hade successfully carried out similar attacks on Sunday on two other ships whose identities could not be ascertained as at press time.
Sources also confirmed that the ships that were attacked were randomly sleeted and were all singled out of the scores that were on the long wait for berthing formalities.
Our sources disclosed that the two ships which were loaded with rice and bulk wheat respectively were ransacked by the marauders who after shooting the captains and maiming the crew carted away valuable items including an undisclosed amount of cash.
“They gained entrance into the ship even without the gangway being lowered, they used a hook which they slung on the ship’s deck and from there, climbed their way up to the ship, the captain tried to frustrate them by trying to remove the hook, but he could not”, a source who is very close to the shipping agents told Shipping Position Weekly.
Explaining how the attacks took place, the source who operates a speed boat between Liverpoool through the popular Takwa Bay up to the anchorage said: “When they eventually came on board the first person they shot at and brutalised was the captain who could not do anything because as you know they are not allowed to carry arms an d the pirates know this as well”.
However, sources at both NPA and the Nigerian Navy told Shipping Position Weekly that measures have been put in place to avert a reoccurrence. One of such is that ships awaiting berthing will now anchor at the same place and will be guarded by naval personnel, while NPA has also been advised to expedite action on pilotage of waiting vessels, even as terminal operators have also been directed to hasten stevedoring operations at their berths so that ships urn around time will be reduced and berth occupancy will lower than it is at the moment.
No one in NPA or Navy was willing to comment when our correspondent contacted them for confirmation.