Africa

Panicked pirates drop ransoms as Kenyan troops make business difficult

By Simon Allison 11 November 2011

Pirates are nothing if not canny businessmen. According Kenya’s Business Daily, Somali pirates have dropped their ransom demands by as much as 50% in the wake of the Kenyan military incursion into Somalia. It’s a bit like a shopping mall sale, with the pirates trying to get rid of their stock before they’re forced to release it for nothing. By SIMON ALLISON.

Kenya didn’t go into Somalia looking for pirates. Its target is Al Shabaab militants. But Al Shabaab is intricately (if not directly) involved in the pirate industry, and the pressure on them has put huge pressure on the pirates’ supply lines. It’s also made the pirates wonder if they might be targeted next. As a result, they’re trying to offload their ill-gotten gains.

“Pirates are keener than before to make sure negotiations for the release of at least nine vessels held in Somalia are completed,” said a manager at shipping agent based in Mombasa, who wished to remain anonymous, speaking to Business Daily. “It is clear the trend is due to the military operation in Somalia.”

One vessel, the Algerian MV Blida, was initially held for a ransom of $6 million after being hijacked at the beginning of this year with 27 crew on board. After the Kenyan incursion, this demand was brought down to $3.5 million. This was paid and the vessel freed.

Piracy in Somalia is a huge industry, with estimates valuing it at anywhere between $4.9 billion and $8.3 billion. Most pirates operate in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, which has not been targeted by either the Kenyan forces or the African Union mission based in Mogadishu. However, the pirate menace has spread further south into Al Shabaab areas as well. DM



Read more:

  • Somalia piracy ransoms dip as Kenya targets Al Shabaab in Kenya’s Business Daily.

Photo: REUTERS

Gallery

Support DAILY MAVERICK & get FREE UBER vouchers every month

An increasingly rare commodity, quality independent journalism costs money, though not nearly as much as its absence can cost global community. No country can live and prosper without truth - that's why it matters.

Every Daily Maverick article and every Scorpio exposé is proof of our dedication to this unshakeable mission. Investing in our news media is by far the most effective investment into South Africa's future.

You can support Independent and Investigative journalism by joining Maverick Insider. If you contribute R150 or more per month you will receive R100 back in UBER vouchers. EVERY MONTH until October 2019.

So, if you'd like to help and do something meaningful for yourself and your country, then sign up to become a Maverick Insider. Together we can Defend Truth.


Inquiry: Day Two

PIC announces ‘blatant’ violations in R4.3-billion investment in Survé-controlled Ayo Technology

By Greg Nicolson

Eton College once provided free education to poor boys. Now it quite literally does the opposite.