A few years ago, virtually every other editorial I wrote contained news about piracy, mainly in the Gulf of Aden. I even had a special section in the News pages with details of all the hijackings that had taken place in the previous month.
Somali pirates became legendary with captured vessels being taken to Puntland and large ransoms were being paid to ensure their release.
Nowadays, there is a totally different scenario. In the first half of 2016 there have been no pirate attacks whatsoever in the Gulf of Aden.
However, all is not rosy. On the other side of the African continent in Nigeria piracy is soaring and it looks as if this year will be the worst ever on record for piracy in this region. Control Risks Consultancy have reported that there were 57 attacks in the first four months of 2016 and that kidnaps have trebled compared to last year. They point out that these are only reported attacks. Many attacks go unreported as the victims have no confidence in the powers that be in Nigeria to arrest the culprits.
Sebastian Villyn, maritime security consultant at Control Risks, commented: “In a country like Nigeria, a lot of criminal activity really goes in ebbs and flows. 2013 was a very high year and 2008 was the highest yet.”
“What we are seeing now is quite a worrying trend, where the criminal groups operating out of the Niger Delta are increasingly targeting larger vessels. Not just the ones vulnerable because of low freeboard, or supply vessels, but also tankers, for the purposes of kidnap.”
The situation in the Gulf of Aden is encouraging and testimony to the armed Naval vessels that have been patrolling the area. The time has come now to employ similar tactics in West Africa and stop this despicable practice.