Mar 16, 2014
General
caxias
Even as the number of pirate attacks on vessels using the Indian Ocean route continues to drop, there is urgent need to ensure that vigilance is not only maintained at all times, but also enhanced.
Even as the number of pirate attacks on vessels using the Indian Ocean route continues to drop, there is urgent need to ensure that vigilance is not only maintained at all times, but also enhanced.

We therefore welcome reports that the Kenyan government is already pushing for a joint anti-piracy surveillance by countries that share the Indian Ocean coastline in a bid to cut costs incurred in tackling pirates so as to safeguard key economic sectors like fishing and shipping.

At its height a few years ago, the piracy menace had wreaked havoc on African economies as international shipping lines avoided the Indian Ocean route due to the incessant attacks by the sea bandits who came from war-torn Somalia.

Their respective economies, which heavily relied on the Indian Ocean, were greatly undermined by the pirate attacks.

They were not the only victims as consumers at the tail end also bore the brunt of the problem as importers raised the prices of goods since shipping lines were avoiding the shorter but more dangerous route to the countries ports.

It took a combined international effort by Western and Asian navies to crack down on the pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden who were taking vessels and crew hostage and demanding millions in ransom.

The militaries deployed warships to patrol the route while some shipping lines hired armed security personnel.

The pirates had grown bolder that they even crossed into Kenya and kidnapped tourists, which prompted the Kenya Defence Force to launch a military incursion into the pirates’ hub in areas previously under the Al-Shabaab militants.

However and as the government has stated, the fact that the number of pirate attacks has subsided does not mean that the menace has been eradicated.

We concur that there is need to step up patrols, but the high costs involved mean that it is imperative for the countries to come together and share the massive cost burden.

According to the Treasury, Kenya’s incursion into Somalia in 2011 had by last November cost the country more than Sh26 billion.

Proof that combined efforts by international governments are working can also be gleaned from data that shows that from a high of 176 pirate attacks on vessels in 2011, there were 36 attacks in 2012 and only seven last year.

The only way that the pirates can be tamed is by the countries providing material and financial resources to curb the criminals who World Bank statistics show have earned hundreds of millions of dollars from ransoms.
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