The Commissioner General of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA), Lenn Eugene Nagbe has disclosed that authority of the sunken vessel will be investigated for disobediently allowing people on the vessel without permission from the LiMA.
Speaking to reporters in Monrovia said the NIKO IVANKA vessel, a locally registered vessel trading between the ports of Monrovia and Harper was halted due to its faultiness, but unfortunately authority of the vessel with seeking permission from the LiMA decided to carry people onboard.
“As it stands, we are pleased to inform the general public that the Search and Rescue Operations overnight rescued eleven persons and we are hopeful of recovering everyone, while the Search and Rescue Operation is still ongoing,” said LiMA Commissioner General Lenn Eugene Nagbe noted.
It can be recalled that on July 17, at about 3:51 P.M. that the Liberia Maritime Authority received an alert from the Liberia Coast Guard through its Monrovia Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Center about a distress situation on board the NIKO IVANKA.
Addressing a press conference at the Liberia Coast Guard Base on the Bushrod Island, in Monrovia, the Commissioner General and also National Coordinator for Search and Rescue in Liberia, Nagbe stated that NIKO IVANKA departed the port of Monrovia for Harper on Saturday, July 17, at about 6:00 A.M. with nine persons on the crew list and nine personnel of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Monrovia Office whom were onboard as passengers.
He added that the vessel while on its way to Harper, started to take in water about six nautical miles off the coast of Marshall City which prompted an immediate launch of a search and rescue operation by stakeholders in the Maritime sector.
Accordingly, the Liberia Maritime Authority, Ministry of National Defense, the Armed Forces of Liberia (Liberia Coast Guard) along with other partners mobilized resources, including assets and personnel, and immediately commenced a Search and Rescue Operations as a means of attending to the distress vessel.
Commissioner Nagbe emphasized that upon the request of LiMA, Arcelor Mittal Liberia, Sea Shepard and other partners were immediately contacted in order to utilize their assets to assist in the Search and Rescue Operations.
The LiMA top official asserted that Arcelor Mittal Liberia responded with two boats with Coast Guard Personnel onboard from the port of Buchanan to the port scene of the incident between Buchanan and Marshall City.
Meanwhile, Nagbe disclosed that the vessel NIKO IVANKA was under current detention order and was not allowed to sail.
He furthered that the vessel throughout its existence has not been licensed to operate as a passenger carrier.
Nagbe stressed that the Maritime Authority along with all of the relevant entities, including the Ministry of Justice, are commissioning an investigation into how a vessel that was detained because of failure to meet rudimentary safety requirements managed to get on the sea with passengers and cargo.
He added that the investigation is ongoing but is subsidiary to the ongoing Search and Rescue effort, citing: “Our priority now is to search and rescue”.
Nagbe assured the public that the Liberia Maritime Authority along with its partners will exert all efforts to rescue all onboard the distressed vessel.
He revealed that they have sent more resources and assets to try searching along the banks of rivers in the areas.
Nagbe lauded the Sea Shepard, Arcelor Mittal, the Liberia Coast Guard and the Lonestar Cell MTN for all of the efforts in the Search and Rescue Mission.