The recent show down between the U.S. Navy and the pirates on the coast of Somalia has once again sparked debate across media channels about the ideal solution to this crisis. There is great concern not only for the safety of the sailors but also the increasing cost of shipping which some have dubbed ‘piracy insurance.’ There have been suggestions of beefing up security vessels and navy ships in the Gulf of Aden, —though realistically the territory of attacks is too large to guarantee security at every corner. Shipping companies have also considered using the safer but longer route around the Cape of Good Hope— instead of the short cut through the Suez Canal. Though this option would eliminate the need for ‘piracy insurance’, it adds an extra 2,700 miles to the voyage and increases annual fuel costs by about $3.5 million. It has also been estimated that using this alternative route would reduce the number of trips that commercial vessels can make in a year from six to five.
With all these solutions being put on the table—what I haven’t heard are any initiatives to tackle the root cause of piracy on the coast of Somalia. How about starting by asking the question—-Why do we have more pirates on the coast of Somalia? Then the next question would be—What is going on in Somalia and how can we fix it? It has become the norm that we try to side step the actual problems going on in the world today and instead opting for a quick fix. We always get caught up choosing the easy way out—take the longer route along the Cape of Good Hope and transfer the cost to the consumers. How about trying to give more HOPE to the people of Somalia, so that they don’t end up trying to make a livelihood in the waters of the Red sea and the Indian Ocean? How about helping stabilize the government in Somalia to be able to control their coastline and also have some sense of stability within the country? The African Union as usual is no where to be seen—– and all the United Nations has done so far is condemn the acts and call for action against pirates through an international naval presence.
When you push people in the corner, you will eventually experience an equal and opposite reaction —as the disenfranchised look for means to survive. Many in the world today are living under extreme poverty. Working hard to make it through the next day—living on crumbs and starring in the eyes of their loved ones without hope. As long as they continue to live behind the walls of a system that offers no solutions—a system that offers no way out—a system that has left many trapped—desperation will eventually drive them into crime– more into drugs—and the waters will never be free of pirates. The bottom line of this quagmire is whether we would prefer to pay millions for security on the waters—rather than address the underlying problem. We should not always settle for running to the Cape of Good Hope—instead we should create an environment which offers hope for those in desperate need. Prevention is always the best form of treatment—
© Kawuma Daniel Busuulwa