Security in the Nigerian maritime domain continues its worrisome plunge with the kidnap of 12 crew members of a Dutch cargo ship, FWN Rapide, off the nation’s coast by suspected pirates.
ForestWave Navigation, which owns the general cargo vessel, confirmed that 12 of the 14 crew members on board were kidnapped during the attack early Saturday morning near the Port Harcourt port, while the remaining two crew members were safe.
The company in a statement disclosed that the vessel has been moved to a safe location and “would like to stress (that) its main priority is to establish contact with the missing seafarers and secure their earliest and secure return.
According to the statement, “The company’s emergency response team is working around the clock and is liaising with the local and international authorities. ForestWave, together with its local organisations, are in close contact with the families of the valued seafarers to support them in these difficult times.”
The company further commended the two crew members for their “courageous and professional handling” of the incident in moving the ship to a safe location after the attack.
The Dutch-flagged 2005 FWN Rapide was sailing from Takoradi, Ghana, to Bonny, Nigeria, when it came under attack. Meanwhile, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has reported a rise in armed attacks against ships in West Africa since the beginning of 2018.
According to the IMB, of the 66 reported incidents in the first quarter of this year, 22 incidents were recorded in Nigeria alone, just as eight of the global recorded 11 vessels fired upon were off Nigeria, including a 300,000 dwt VLCC tanker over 40 nautical miles off Brass.
Already, the situation is spiraling some negative consequences on the Nigerian maritime industry, especially at the eastern ports, where vessels entering the Onne Port in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, are now delayed for an average of six hours per night due to insecurity.
For the reported delay for six-hour average, the estimated $7,500 per hour amounts to $45,000 (N16.2 million) per night, which the importers consequently have to pay.
With the Gulf of Guinea recording 29 incidents (over 40 per cent of the global total) in 2018 Q1, the Ag Director-General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Chidi Izuwah, said that absence of night sailing at the Onne Port was worrisome.
The situation is more worrisome as the attackers have no regards for the type or classification of target vessels.