Fight Somali piracy through prison ships

Until nations get more serious about piracy, mariners will face the risk of being taken hostage.

A Canadian helicopter patrols the Gulf of Aden on an anti-piracy mission. A reader recommends the opening of prison ships to confine Somali pirates. Marcel Mochet / AFP
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The article The fight will only be won on land (January 18) maintained that sea patrols against Somali pirates are not sufficient and that courts must be prepared to jail them.

Using the United Nations Convention of the Law of the the Sea (UNCLOS), the UN and a small measure of common sense should draw up a resolution to charter prison vessels.

Those caught committing acts of piracy could then be held in suitably designed vessels floating offshore under UN jurisdiction. By doing so, no longer would pirates and suspects be released and hence free to continue acts of tyranny against innocent unarmed seafarers and world commerce.

Currently most of those apprehended by the navies of the world are simply let go after a brief interrogation. This must be as galling to naval personnel as it is to their counterpart merchant mariners but apparently not so to politicians.

However, politicians the world over are seemingly content to squander billions of dollars of taxpayer's money. Naval protection undoubtedly helps but only in small measures and certainly it does not make commercial sense. It is openly accepted that with the vastness of the ever-increasing area where attacks are perpetrated, deployed naval vessels simply cannot cope.

The answer we are told is a stable situation ashore in Somali and after 20-odd years of being allowed to fester, sadly this is nowhere on the horizon.

It is patently obvious that there will be no stability, let alone the infrastructure ashore anytime soon. In the meantime, mariners will continue to face the risk of being taken hostage, disabled or killed.

Jim Nicoll, US

A philosophy of tarmac and tyres

In response to Ziad Q's letter to the editor One way to avoid traffic jams (January 16) perhaps all drivers should adopt the "Tarmac and Tyres" philosophy.

Leave enough distance between your car and the one in front so that you can see not only the road between you, but their rear tyres as well.

This way if the car in front breaks down there is sufficient room to manoeuvre around it, at the same time maximising the road space.

Keith Dawes, Dubai

The passenger pays in the end

In reference to the news article Fuel prices blamed for Dubai taxi fare rise (January 17), it's not magic, it's maths.

Unless the cars used by the taxi companies are getting less than three kilometres per litre of fuel, it is an additional profit for the taxi companies and it helps the drivers meet their quotas to get their bonuses. The consumer gets it in the wallet.

Erik Sandler, Dubai

Agreed, high fuel prices have affected every aspect of life including foodstuffs. It has not affected employees' monthly incomes, which must also be considered if they have to pay extra for everything else.

While governments of all countries are debating the issue of higher costs of living and seriously considering ways to reduce the price of crude, will the taxi fares be brought down after the price of a barrel of crude comes down?

Or, will it be yet another case of "what goes up never comes down"?

Amit Bhattacharjie, Dubai

Job uncertainty is a constant

I refer to the business article Jumeirah cuts jobs amid expansion (January 13). Any commercial activity needs to be economical and profitable.

Employees cannot claim any right to retention in their jobs for life.

One should understand this. Job losses happened and will continue to happen all over the world. 2011 may be worse than 2010.

So let us all be prepared for the not-so-good times ahead.

Dr KB Vijayakumar, Dubai

Competitive Emirates Airlines

The business article Lufthansa steps up Emirate fight (January 17) reported that Germany's national carrier wants to prevent landing slots at Berlin's new airport being awarded to Emirates Airline.

What happened to free trade and competition? Let both airlines run as many flights as they want and let the travellers choose which airline to fly.

Personally, I will choose Emirates over Lufthansa any time. The planes and the service are much better.

The problem is that Lufthansa knows this which is why they're worried. Keep up the good work, Emirates.

Ziad Q, Abu Dhabi