Business at risk: understanding threats to informal maritime transportation system in the South-South, Nigeria


There are several crimes considered minor but which usually result in other serious crimes when left unchallenged. This is the nature of the threats against informal maritime transportation system within the South-South region of Nigeria, which has evaded the attention of scholars in literature. Utilizing a mixed-method approach and the broken window theory, this article makes a case for the growing security concern against commercial motorboat operators on account of negligence of piracy against the major stakeholders of the informal maritime transportation system in Nigeria. The implication is that the South-South region has become a hotspot for various heinous crimes made possible because piracy against less privileged groups such as the commercial motorboat operators (considered as minor crime) was left almost unaddressed by the Nigerian state. As Nigeria strives to combat maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG), mending its broken windows that permit for heinous crimes is central for achieving a stable economy that factors in the place of the less privileged in the society.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Motorboats, as used in this article, refer to the collection of all marine boats that make use of outboard engines, including those ones whose bodies are fabricated by local people using hard woods. They are the same thing as speedboats or powerboats.

  2. 2.

    Blue economy has to do with both the exploitation and preservation of ocean or marine environment for sustainable utilization. It is a concept largely used for stewardship extended to all the blue resources associated with waters, especially the ocean and it has its root to the Commonwealth Blue Charter and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, which talks about “life under water”.

  3. 3.

    This is a rough figure obtained from the FGDs carried out in Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers states.

  4. 4.

    Hire-Purchase is a common practice in Nigeria where assets, to be purchased in future, are paid for in installment for those who have no resources to pay for them at once. In most cases, those who have the money procure those assets and release same for others who pay in installment at a higher price; often doubling the market price. Ownership of such asset is only transferred to the hire purchaser when they complete the payment.

  5. 5.

    This was the estimate operators of these boats revealed they make in a day.

  6. 6.

    This was observed by many respondents during the FGDs.


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Correspondence to Michael I. Ugwueze.

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Ugwueze, M.I., Asua, S.A. Business at risk: understanding threats to informal maritime transportation system in the South-South, Nigeria. J Transp Secur 14, 119–135 (2021).

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  • Informal maritime transportation
  • Motorboat operators
  • Broken window
  • Piracy
  • Gulf of guinea