Piracy at sea targeting cargo carrying vessels is an unfortunate reality most of us are familiar with, but piracy at berth or anchor in port is a new development, writes Mike Mundy.
This, however, is now a reality in Nigeria which has seen the rise and rise of this phenomenon which, according to local reports, got underway on March 2 this year with an attack on the Pamyat at Berth 14, Lagos Port Complex, Apapa. Asia Ruby was similarly attacked at the same berth in the early hours of April 24 and attacks also took place at the Tin Can Port Island Port Complex on March 3 on Aquata and Sichem New York which were discharging cargoes at Berths 2 and 1 respectively, operated by Josepdam. Four days later another attack took place at Josepdam on the Kiana which was alongside discharging bulk sugar.
The attacks are clearly opportunistic where the robbers are looking for valuables on-board ships and even goods from the terminals hosting the ships, if possible. On March 18 yet another attack took place on Josepdam with the robbers this time targeting the terminal’s fuel dump and reportedly beating and tying up security guards before siphoning off and stealing eight drums of diesel oil.
In all cases the attacks have been initiated from the seaward side of the port facilities via boats equipped with powerful motors.
Suggestions have been made that at least in some cases, these attacks have been conducted with the support of internal personnel. Adewale Adeyanju, president general of the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria has stated, for example, that recently dismissed security and tally men personnel at Josepdam were involved in the attacks here. “What we are experiencing now,” he said, “might be the attitude of those who have lost their jobs.” He further noted that the dismissal of such personnel makes the terminal more open to such attacks.
The concession of terminals in Nigeria, and flowing out of this the positive focus on terminals adhering to the ISPS Code, had up until this sequence of attacks delivered a good security regime. Now, though, it is clearly time for the relevant authorities – Nigerian Ports Authority and others in partnership with terminal operators – to step in and beef up security measures to eliminate this worrying trend. Failure to do so will inevitably result in increased insurance premiums for vessels calling at these facilities