Home Maritime NIMASA working with relevant authorities to see kidnapped 19 crew release – Dakuku

NIMASA working with relevant authorities to see kidnapped 19 crew release – Dakuku

by Business News Report

 In the wake of the recent attack on a tanker vessel named, ‘Nave Constellation’, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has disclosed its readiness to fast-track the maritime security architecture, just as the Director General of the Agency Dr. Dakuku Peterside stated that the Agency is working with relevant partners to ensure the crew onboard are secured and safe. The DG spoke in Abuja on the sidelines of the ongoing National Transportation Summit organised by the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIoTA), stating that the tanker was attacked off the coast of Bonny with nineteen persons alleged to have been picked up leaving nine crew members onboard the vessel. 

“The operators of the vessel made contact with NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy and we immediately went to work”, he said. He said that the vessel owners had operated for ten days, within our territorial waters yet didn’t establish contact with the Harbour Masters. It also didn’t establish contact with the authorities in Nigeria. “However, that isn’t an issue because life is more precious than any other consideration. We have also immediately contacted the naval unit around that area and they have gone to work. The Navy has established contact with the remaining crew members onboard the vessel and the nine persons onboard the vessel are safe and the vessel is safe”.

The DG who lamented that this is happening at a time that efforts are being put together to make Nigerian waterways safe gave the assurance that the Agency will not rest on its oars. 

“I think this would ultimately serve as catalyst for us to fast-track what we are doing to safeguard our waterways so that commerce can thrive again and people can do economic activities without fear or hindrance”. While sympathising with the victims and their families for the ordeal and challenges of being kidnapped, he urged every concerned citizen and stakeholders to come together and work with NIMASA and relevant security Agencies to end the menace. It will be recalled that Nigeria recently hosted a Global Maritime Security Conference (GMSC) where several engagement with stakeholders from all over the world, on the global maritime scale towards enhancing collaboration among maritime nations in order to find lasting solution to the security issues on the Gulf of Guinea and on the entire West and Central Africa.

 It will be recalled that Pirates have members from a crude oil tanker off Nigeria in an area where acts of piracy are on the rise, an official with the ship’s operator said on Thursday. The loaded vessel, the Nave Constellation, was attacked 77 nautical miles off Bonny Island and 18 Indians and one Turk from the crew were seized, the official said. Seven other crew members remain on board the vessel. Neither the vessel nor the cargo were damaged, the official said. The shipping industry has warned in recent months about the increasing dangers faced by seafarers sailing through the Gulf of Guinean, particularly around Nigeria, including kidnappings by pirate gangs. The International Maritime Bureau said in October the Gulf of Guinea accounted for more than four fifths of crew kidnappings globally. Maritime security officials say that over the past year there has been a growing shift by pirate gangs in the Gulf of Guinea and especially Nigeria towards kidnapping crews rather than stealing cargoes, aiming to extract ransom from ship owners for crews being held and subjected to violence. 

The Hong Kong-flagged supertanker, capable of carrying up to 2 million barrels of oil, is operated by Greek shipping company Navios Tankers Management. “We are doing everything necessary to make sure that the 19 crew members will return safe,” the official at Navios said, adding that their families have been informed. An Indian government source said its mission in Nigeria had taken up the matter of the kidnappings with the Nigerian government and security agencies. The vessel was carrying crude for Indian refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corp, a source at the company said. The vessel was chartered by French oil company Total to deliver Bonny Light oil at Vizag in southern India, the source said. “Total has told us it would arrange alternative crew to get the cargo delivered on time,” the source, who did not wish to be identified, told Reuters. 

Total confirmed the piracy act. “The vessel is chartered by a Total shipping entity. Crew management and nautical operations are managed by the shipowner and technical operator of the vessel,” it said. Nigerian Navy commander Captain Kolawole Oguntuga said the vessel, which loaded Shell Bonny Light, was hijacked soon after leaving the terminal. The ship did not request a navy escort to provide them with adequate protection, he said.

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