Pirates attack: Ghana deploys air and naval power at sea
Ghana is deploying joint naval and air force patrols to contain the threatening armed attacks on vessels plying the country’s maritime space.
A highly placed security source at the seat of government who disclosed this to The Chronicle over the weekend laid emphasis on our eastern territorial waters, where the attacks have become rampant lately.
According to the high profile source, the immediate deployment is to prevent the bandits from accessing and adopting the Gulf of Guinea as a haven for piracy.
The navies of Nigeria and Cameroun are collaborating to destabilise the footholds of pirates in the Niger Delta, hence the criminal elements relocating to Ghanaian territorial waters.
For close to three months now, kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea have seen a rise, with the latest being two Koreans and two Russians, who are believed to have been sent to unknown locations in the Niger Delta.
Earlier in June, this year, five Koreans and one Ghanaian were abducted from their fishing vessel off the coast of Lagos in Nigeria. It took diplomatic intervention where a huge ransom was secured before that group was released, and the same process is prevailing now with regard to the latest four captives from Asia.
The government, the source said, is not relenting on trying to render the Ghana Navy especially, resourceful to handle the emerging threat. As this reporter gets embedded with the Navy in the effort, it is glaring the security forces are leaving nothing to chance.
The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Eastern Naval Command (ENC), Commodore Emmanuel Ayesu Kwafo, over the weekend, engaged stakeholders in the jurisdiction on how to collaborate to keep at bay these armed elements.
Speaking to The Chronicle, Commodore Kwafo stated that the team he led had met with the chief executives of the assemblies bordering the eastern coastal belt, chief fishermen and opinion leaders in the communities.
The FOC went on that the Ketu South Municipal Chief Executive, Elliot Agbenorwu, was organising sensitisation programs on local radio stations with naval resource persons.
He continued that the fibre glass vessel, which capsised but was towed to the Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC) at Sogakope, is highly suspected to have been a target during one of the raids by their sister navy from Nigeria.
According to him, there were signs of injuries onboard the boat, and that the crew might have sought refuge on one of the numerous islands in the Volta Estuary.
The current approach of information gathering and sharing by members of the communities with the Navy, the FOC says, will assist the security agencies a great deal.
Meanwhile, information available to the paper suggested that the Fisheries Commission is also working around the clock to bring to life the inactive Vessels Monitoring System (VMS) to add to the efforts of the Ghana Navy.
A reliable source at the Fisheries Ministry, who preferred anonymity, stated that the sector was not the least enthused about their inability to monitor happenings at sea, because the transponders, which are components of the system, have not been functioning for almost eight months now.
The malfunctioning of the device has not halted a running contract for the provision of satellite network between the Fisheries Commission and the service providers.
It would be recalled that the armed attacks at sea necessitated the contemplation of owners of Ghanaian flagged tuna fishing vessels mainly from Korea to deflag and relocate to Senegal.
The situation has also led to the withdrawal of a Norwegian research vessel from the Gulf of Guinea.