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Senate Committee slips in sinking vessel probe?

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-Sources cite procedural issues

Reactions from multiple sources against the Liberian Senate committee report on the sinking vessel Niko Ivanka from the Freeport of Monrovia point to procedural issues that sources said were not captured in the report.

Speaking to this paper Wednesday, August 18, 2021, a source at the Liberia Maritime Authority who asked for anonymity said the fact that the Senate committee did not involve the Liberia Maritime Authority in its findings is a procedural misstep that led to failure in raising the hard questions before coming to the public.

But the Senate report details that during the investigation, the Maritime boss Nagbe didn’t turn out on grounds that he (Commissioner Nagbe) received the communication late.

This paper also gathered that as of April 28, 2021, the vessel Niko Ivanka had made 10 trips between the Port of Monrovia and the Port of Harper in Maryland County without report of any fault, and that Maritime Authority has been making requests for fees payment to the company HYLAEA Shipping that runs the vessel.

Another source asked if Maritime claimed the vessel was banned from sailing, why it did not alert authority at the Port by issuing an immediate stay order.

The Armed Forces of Liberia is reported as confirming that it didn’t see a stay order to stop the vessel from sailing.

The Senate Committee on Defense, Security, Intelligence, and Veterans Affairs on  Tuesday, August 17, 2021, released findings in chamber during a session at the Capitol, among others, blaming the Management of the National Port Authority for poorly handling circumstances that led to the sinking of the vessel Niko Ivanka in Liberian waters on July 17, 2021, leaving about a dozen persons drowned, including eight staff of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Monrovia Office.

The Liberia Maritime Authority in collaboration with the Liberia National Coast Guard rescued about 11 persons, including two Chinese captains that led the voyage. 

But the committee, which conducted its own investigation, says the NPA “blundered and didn’t do its job well.”

Its chair Senator Steve Zargo explains the vessel, which Liberia’s Maritime Commissioner Lenn Eugene Nagbe said was never registered or authorized to sail, did not have an Automatic Information System (AIS) to ensure tracking in case of distress, and that the NPA itself never had a record of people onboard.

However, earlier reports quote the vessel management as saying Maritime was fully aware of the vessel leaving the Port.

“We are on the water every week and the Maritime has their agents here at the Port. The boat was never banned by Maritime, as it was stated this morning. It is only this morning we heard the Maritime boss Eugene Lenn Nagbe saying that”, the company communication head and current Acting General Manager, Tito Logan said.

Logan acknowledged that Maritime collects its dues or fees from the company every time and there is no way the vessel could leave the Port facilities without Maritime authorization and the port management, saying that if the vessel was banned as said by the Maritime boss because it didn’t meet the safety requirements of Maritime, they wouldn’t have been making trips every week.

Logan said what happened was just an accident, noting that one may buy a brand new car today and it encounters a problem.

“There are port security to the port and if any vessel is banned by Maritime, the International Seaport Police (ISP) wouldn’t allow such vessel get on the water”, Logan noted.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is expected to release its own findings today, Thursday, August 19, on the sinking vessel.

President George Manneh Weah has reportedly directed the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to allocate US$100,000 to prepare funeral rites of victims of the Niko Ivanka tragedy, according to the Executive Mansion.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/in-sinking-vessel-probe-senate-committee-indicts-npa/ Story by Jonathan Browne

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