Families demand justice in vessel tragedy
By: Emmanuel wise Jipoh
Grief-stricken families of the vessel Niko Ivanka that sunk last year off the coast of Margibi County are demanding Justice for relatives who died in the incident, one year after.
Mary Sackie Joe is widow of late Police Officer Abraham T. Joe, and Bernice V. B. Kollie is the widow of the late Massay Kollie, who was an employee of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) Liberia Office.
The widows have vowed they will not rest until justice is served.
The sinking of the Niko Ivanka claimed seven lives and left several others injured, who were later rescued.
The ill-fated vessel, which was carrying 21 persons, including seven staff of WAEC to Harper, Maryland county, capsized on Saturday, July 17, 2021, in Liberian waters.
Those who lost their lives were: Morris B. Kellen, Akesseh G. Dolo, Stephen M. Kollie, Johnson Wuelueh, Sr., James D. Konneh, Massay Kollie, and Police Officer Abraham Joe.
The vessel departed the Free Port of Monrovia, headed for Maryland county and adjacent counties in Southeast Liberia to administer WAEC tests to 6th & 9th graders and to introduce a new set of tests for 3rd graders when it sunk near Margibi.
“I am not angry that my husband died; that was God’s will. I am angry at the way the aftermath of the boat wreck was handled,” laments Madam Joe, widow of the late Officer Abraham Joe.
“My husband was my backbone and he cared so much about his family. He worked for WAEC and at no time did anyone say he was a troublemaker or did not do his job well. Was this intentional? We leave it with God. God will fight our battle,” adds Mrs. Kollie, widow of the deceased Massay Kollie, who was an employee of WAEC Liberia.
They spoke recently at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (EJS) Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, where WAEC Liberia held a memorial service for seven different groups of bereaved families.
According to them, the government failed to dispense justice for their loved ones, who died, while servicing the country.
Meanwhile, at the time of the tragedy, Liberia Maritime Authority Commissioner General Lenn Eugene Nagbe consoled the bereaved families and promised that government was going to investigate and render justice to those affected by the tragedy.
George McCay, owner of the vessel, and two Chinese nationals, Alex Tou, Azaan Dahi, Zhong Qixiang commonly known as Jack, and Wesley C.G Moore were arrested and charged for the unauthorized sail of the vessel from the Free Port of Monrovia, but the government, through state prosecutors are reportedly reneging on proceeding with the matter.
In remarks at the memorial service, Dale Gbotoe, head of WAEC-Liberia, assured the bereaved families that his office remains open to listen to them and render help where and when necessary.
He called on the Ministry of Education to deliver alleged promises made in order to ensure children of the deceased have opportunities to enroll in universities across the country. Editing by Jonathan Browne