BY MARGRETH ITALA
MORE than 6 billion USD has been lost in the past ten years in Eastern and Southern African countries due to Somali piracy, which has caused the country’s economic retrogression since its instability.
Deputy Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Transport, Mr John Mngodo, said during the opening of a three-day seminar in Dar es Salaam organised by the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra), that the seminar’s aim was to increase the capacity of senior maritime officials to be able to tackle piracy in the Indian Ocean.
Mr Mngodo said the security of ports had to be addressed because the country aimed at providing standardised security of ports and facilities to reduce increased costs of shipping.
“Maritime security is a major component of the economy of our country, so we aim to address the root causes of piracy in Somalia to assure security in our country,” he said. He added that the Shipping Act of 2003 had enabled the country to tackle international shipping insecurity.
“The effects of piracy have been felt by our country and it needs political intervention to face the challenges so that security and safety will once again bring cruise ships which stopped operating in or waters for fear of being hijacked by pirates,” Mr Mngodo said.
He said the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) was set to come up with new strategies and skills to end the menace. For his part, the IMO Regional Coordinator for Eastern and Southern Africa, Mr John Muindi, said that experts have been brought in to put in practice strategies on piracy by improving facilities and skills to tackle the situation, adding that the United States and other African countries had vowed to work together to end piracy.
“For ten years now piracy has disturbed our political and economic situation as the hijacking of cargo ships has caused a lot of losses economically,” Mr Muindi said.
However, Sumatra Director of Maritime Safety and Security, King Chiragi, urged sea users not to fear, saying that Tanzania had guaranteed safety and security because it was well equipped against marine piracy. The seminar drew participants from a number of countries including Mauritius, US, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, South Sudan, Seychelles, India and Kenya.