Anti-piracy force plan dropped by traders

Filed on September 13, 2006

DUBAI — The Somalian Business Council (SBC) in Dubai has dropped its plan to deploy a ‘private armed force’ to protect UAE vessels from pirates in the Somalian territorial waters.

The decision came in the light of the latest political development in Somalia wherein the Shariah Court has taken control over the major parts of Somalian territory, including the capital Mogadishu. The Somalian Business Council in Dubai had decided three months ago to deploy a ‘private armed force’ in Somalian territorial waters following two UAE ships hijacked by pirates there.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Sheriff Ahmed, Somalian Business Council’s Chairman in Dubai said: “We have been monitoring the developments in Somalia after the Shariah Court took power three months ago. The situation now is much better than before. The main problem makers were the pirates, and the Shariah Court has managed to send them out of the country, while all their bases are under the control of the court.”

“None of the vessels have been reportedly hijacked or attacked after the Shariah Court took charge,” he said, disclosing further that following this move, the country’s trade has witnessed a tremendous growth. “I visited Somalia only last month and I could feel the difference,” he added. Ahmed pointed out that following the hijacking incidents, vessel owners were hesitant to send their vessels to Somalia. “But now, the problem is over and the agents have started to chart more cargo vessels.”

However, Sheriff urged the international community to support Somalia in setting up a coast security system. “The Court is doing an excellent job now. But they need support from the international community to maintain peace in the country,” he said.

He pointed out that political instability and hefty insurance premiums for cargo vessels had resulted in a sharp rise in the cost of living in the country. “When I sent 14 metric tonnes of sugar to Somalia, I had to pay $70,000 as insurance because of piracy problems. Apart from this, there were checkposts all over the country set up by different groups. They also used to levy some charges on trading. The condition of the people has become miserable because of all these factors,” he said. Lin1 and MV Al Taj, two UAE cargo vessels were hijacked by Somalian pirates earlier this year. However, both the vessels were released soon after the agents paid hefty amounts in ransoms.

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