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Somali Piracy

Tanzania hit by pirate attacks on the Indian Ocean waters

Apolinari Tairo, eTN Staff Writer  Apr 28, 2009

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) - Tanzania has joined the international force in fighting piracy along the East African coast, as Somali pirates continue to hijack commercial ships along the route.

Tanzania Security and Defense Minister Dr. Hussein Mwinyi said Tanzania is currently working with international forces to ensure the safety for ships plying the Eastern African coast, which is being threatened by Somali piracy.

Increased piracy on the Tanzanian sea route is jeopardizing commercial shipping and tourist vintage cruise ships. There is a great possibility of experiencing low-shipping traffic with the dwindling of export and import trade within east African nations because of the ongoing problem.

So far, Tanzania is among the trouble spots along the Indian Ocean’s western rim having experienced 14 pirate attacks.

The country’s commercial shipping regulators, the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA), held a regional meeting to check the piracy plague under the auspices of the world maritime body, the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

SUMATRA has said it is still measuring the impact of the scourge on the country’s commercial shipping regime.

However, shipping companies that serve the Tanzanian sea route say that the piracy scourge is frustrating the commercial shipping regime, which is also facing dwindling export traffic due to the global economic recession.

It is being predicted that premiums are going to go up as piracy becomes more vicious.

Ships are now sailing around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the risk of capture.

MSC-Tanzania’s managing director, Mr. John Nyaronga, said the country’s export trade, led by traditional exports commodities like cotton, cashew nuts, and coffee, have been hit by the global economic downturn that has depreciated the international prices of the commodities.

Mr. Nyaronga said the trend has already shaken the shipping community because of the uncertainties brought by Somali pirates.

Dar es Salaam-based shipping company Maersk Tanzania has introduced an emergency risk surcharge for sea-borne cargo destined for Tanzania to compensate for any piracy incident.

Observers say insurance premiums, which are on the increase due to piracy, can lead to hyperinflation in vulnerable economies like Tanzania, if not tamed.

It is a normal practice by shippers in the country to pass the extra transportation costs they incur to consumers making the domestic market inflationary.

Experts say shipping companies will pay US$400 million as an insurance cover per annum for their vessels to ply the troubled Somali waters.

It was reported on Saturday that six Somali pirates in a speedboat approached a German cruise liner MS Melody‚Äö in the Indian Ocean waters, but guards aboard the ship opened fire prompting the pirates to flee.

On board the MS Melody were some 1,000 passengers, including German tourists, a number of other nationalities, and the crew.

The captain of the cruise ship said that the pirates tried to seize his ship about 180 miles north of Victoria in the Seychelles. He added that the gunmen fired at least 200 rounds of shots to the vessel.

The MS Melody was on a tourist cruise from South Africa to Italy. It is now heading to the Jordanian port of Aqaba as scheduled.

It was also reported (on Sunday) that Somali pirates took over a Yemeni oil tanker and clashed with coast guards. Two pirates were killed, three others were wounded, while two Yemeni guards were hurt during the fighting.

Somali pirates hijacked about 100 ships last year.

Tanzania hit by pirate attacks on the Indian Ocean waters
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