War Is Boring: East Africa’s Seat of Trade Feels Piracy Pinch

War Is Boring: East Africa’s Seat of Trade Feels Piracy Pinch

MOMBASA, Kenya -- In the past, on many days the giant container ships lined up 10 deep just outside the entrance to Mombasa's seaport, awaiting their turn to offload cargo. It was a sign of East Africa's growing economy that there were more ships than spots at Mombasa's cargo terminals.

But lately there have been fewer ships. On Wednesday afternoon, just one vessel anchored in the distance, while a handful of outbound vessels emerged from the harbor and turned south.

Across Mombasa, people associated with the region's sea trade are feeling the pinch. Fewer ships mean less work for ship's agents, harbor pilots, contract mariners, stevedores and others. Many of them agree on the major cause of the downturn: the thousands of increasingly sophisticated pirates who trawl the waters off the Somali coast, just a few hundred miles north of Mombasa.

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