A maritime watchdog group is calling the coastline of Nigeria the most dangerous in the world. The UN agency, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), says pirate attacks have increased from four in 2003 to 107 last year.
Another group, the Nigerian Trawler Owners Association, reports 50 attacks this year, with 10 fishermen killed. Prince Martin Bisong is a a community leader and maritime affairs expert. From the coastal city of Port Harcourt, he told VOA English to Africa reporter Chinedu Offor the surge in pirates attacks is tied to the security situation in the oil-rich Niger Delta.
“I think it is a spillover of the Niger Delta conflict because we are talking about a group of youths that are armed already, who have also been using this issue of kidnappings at gun point, of course, to survive…they are “graduating”; it’s an extension of what they have been doing. They are already armed; the ammunitions are there; of course, they have to be used for something, unless the government has a deliberate plan to either disarm them or dialogue with them. Anything [other than] that, the arms will still be there and they will have to be used for something.”
Bisong says the attacks have taken a toll on the area’s economy. “The truth of the matter is…in Rivers State it used to be very, very peaceful… The nightlife these days is reduced drastically; people are scared of coming out or stay out late; in fact, most people don’t like going there.” Prince Bisong says most foreign and local businesses are pulling out, further worsening unemployment in the entire region.
“It is very, very grievous; it is affecting the economy. If you follow the news you will realize how many billions of dollars that Nigeria has lost as a result of the low production; it is really affecting the economy.”