Somali pirates have been paid Sh1.7 billion as ransom over the last one year, a maritime official has said.
The Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) Director General Nancy Karigithu said there were at least 219 attacks on ships in the coast of Somalia since last year.
Attributing the information to the International Maritime Bureau, she said that Somali pirates hijacked at least 49 ships and took 1,016 crew as hostages.
Ms Karigithu also revealed that total ransom as at June this year was Sh1.7 billion (US$254 million). There are 14 pirated vessels and 345 hostages awaiting ransom payment.
Mrs Karigithu was making her presentation titled ‘simulation of piracy incidences’ to judges and magistrates attending a maritime law meeting at Leisure Lodge Resort, Diani.
The conference, which was concluded last week, was organized by the KMA and Judicial Training Institute (JTI).
Somali pirates she said are different and tactful in the way they conduct their operations and are not deterred by the presence of naval forces from the European Naval Forces, Combined Maritime Forces, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) and independent navies of Russia, India, Japan and China among others.
They are the only ones who can hijack a supertanker from the high seas and dock it at their port awaiting ransom.
“They have no respect for any ship even if it is carrying dangerous goods,” said the director general.
Piracy, she noted, had become rampant because of poverty and political instability.