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Enhanced patrols in Singapore Strait needed to curb robberies spike

INCIDENTS of robbery in the Singapore Strait and the waters off Malaysia spiked sharply in 2019, sparking industry calls for coastal nations around the Singapore Strait to boost surveillance and patrols of the waterway

19 January 2020 - 19:00

INCIDENTS of robbery in the Singapore Strait and the waters off Malaysia spiked sharply in 2019, sparking industry calls for coastal nations around the Singapore Strait to boost surveillance and patrols of the waterway.

There were 31 reported incidents last year up from seven in 2018, of which 15 occurred in the westbound lane of the traffic separation scheme mostly from January to August and 16 in the eastbound lane of the TSS from the end of September to December, reported UK's LLoyd's List.



The TSS is Singapore's traffic separation scheme for ships passing through the corridor, one of the world's major shipping lanes.



The Regional Co-operation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia Information Sharing Centre (ReCP ISC) said that 14 of the 15 incidents occurred on barges towed by tugs. The perpetrators stole scrap metal, but no one was harmed in any of the incidents as the barges are unmanned.



In the eastbound lane incidents, which involved eight bulk carriers, five tankers including a very large crude carrier, and three barges, ReCP ISC reported that two crew members suffered minor injuries and in three cases, some crew members were tied up.



'The shipping industry is advised to exercise utmost vigilance, adopt preventive measures and report all incidents immediately to the nearest coastal state,' said the centre's executive director Masafumi Kuroki.



Meanwhile, a total of 82 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia were reported from January to December, comprising 71 actual incidents and 11 attempted incidents. This represents an increase of eight per cent in the total number of incidents and a jump of 15 per cent in actual incidents, compared with a year ago.



'The 15 per cent year-on-year increase in the actual number of incidents in 2019 as well as a spike of incidents in the Singapore Strait are a stark reminder that government agencies and the shipping industry should continuously uphold their respective efforts as a shared responsibility,' said Mr Kuroki.



'Regional co-operation among coastal states and mutual co-operation between government agencies and the shipping industry are key to ensure the safety of seafarers and safe navigation of ships,' he added.


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