Seaports are increasingly used by illegal migrants as ports or entry or exist. The criminal activity which is gaining grounds in African ports poses a significant threat to the safety of vessels and crew.
It also tarnishes the reputation of the ports where practice is common. In a bid to check the phenomenon, the international Maritime Organization, IMO is holding a three day conference on stowaways in Cameroon.
The Yaoundé conference is a platform for ports Authorities and governments from across the continent and experts from across the globe to share best practices in maritime safety and Security.
The Director General of the National Port Authority of Cameroon, Youmba Josue outlines the importance of the meeting to the host country. He said Cameroon is amongst few African countries that that implement international convention to enhance maritime safety and security.
Despite the fact that Cameroon is efficiently checking the activities of stowaways, the forum is an opportunity to evaluate strides made after the two regional seminars on stowaways for West and Central African organised in 2014 in Cote d’Ivoire.
The Head of facilitation in the Subdivision for Maritime Security and Facilitation of the International Maritime Organization, Julian Abril speaking on behalf of the organization said that the activities of stowaways in Africa has reduced compared to five years ago but their cost on the shipping industry still remains very high.
Cameroon’s Minister of Transport, Jean Ernest Massina Ngalle Bibehe, who was on his first official outing since the March 2 cabinet shake up, urged the experts to elaborate concrete proposals that will help governments enhance maritime safety and security.
The experts are expected to reflect on solutions to reduce the number of stowaways, promote technical cooperation amongst Port Authorities with governments and enhance security mechanisms.