Piracy and Logic….

The third biggest container shipping company in the world, CMA CGM, has announced it will raise a surcharge on containers transported through the Gulf of Aden as of 15 December. The reason given: the danger of piracy in this vital sea route, according to a report in Lloyds List.

The step defies logic (bar greed), as there hasn’t been a single successful hijacking attempt in the Gulf of Aden since last July, Radio Netherlands learned. The reason: navies of a number of countries (like China, India, Iran, Russia) and entities (European Union, NATO, the US-led ‘Combined Task Force 151’) are guarding a transit route through the Gulf of Aden: the ‘Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor’.

In fact, as we speak, I am on board of the flagship of the EU’s Operation Atalanta, HNMLS Evertsen, somewhere in that corridor, and in the past week I did see many container ships, including ones of CMA CGM, happily sail by, enjoying the considerable benefits of naval protection.

Obviously, the deployment of so many warships to the Gulf of Aden and elsewhere costs money. Do shipping companies share the burden? Of course not. But here’s an idea: any shipping company imposing a surcharge for transport of goods through the Gulf should deposit a share of that money into a fund which helps pay for the deployment of navy ships in this area.

After all, why should governments (and by consequence, tax payers) exclusively carry the load of preventing piracy off Somalia? And why should shipping companies such as CMG CGA grow richer by imposing a surcharge for goods transported through the Gulf referring to a danger that, in all objectivity, simply doesn’t exist anymore?

Over Hans de Vreij

Dutch journalist. Former correspondent in Brussels, Geneva, Prague, East Berlin.
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