Liberia: A Tragedy That Nobody Wants to Take Blame for

It is very ludicrous but sadly regrettable that the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) says current investigation into the July 17, 2021 sinking of the vessel Niko Ivanko six (6) nautical miles off the shore of Marshall City, Margibi County is not to determine liability or to hold people accountable but to avoid future reoccurrence.

We find it incomprehensible that the government agency responsible for maritime affairs in the country would want to brush over a tragedy that has left almost a dozen persons fear dead over two weeks since the incident transpired under the pretext of preventing similar marine incident in the future. How can such incident be avoided in the future without the ongoing investigation holding people or institution accountable?

We beg to differ with the LiMA boss, Commissioner Lenn Eugene Nagbe on the way he's proceeding with the investigation. From the Liberia Maritime Authority to the Management of the Freeport of Monrovia and the company that operates the dilapidated Niko Ivanko in Liberian waters: Someone should be held to account for what happened that led to loss of lives and properties valued hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

The LiMA controls the waters of Liberia and everything that sails on its hence, for that institution to relegate facts and circumstances that led to the fatal sinking of a vessel that should be under its watch seems to indicate it is attempting to vindicate itself of any responsibility as an authority, particularly when it had disclosed the vessel was not licensed to sail.

This should not be the case at all. Instead, the probe should be inclusive and exhaustive in order to dig out all of the facts to allow the chip to fall wherever regardless, who's involved.

Commissioner Nagbe announced last week through a press release the hiring of a certified maritime investigator Rishi Mehrotra to probe the tragedy with a view of preventing such thing in the future. Some reports say a Ghanaian national has been brought into the country to conduct the investigation.

At least 12 persons, including a Chinese captain were reportedly rescued from the sunken vessel with three bodies recovered since the incident. The fact of the matter is the vessel took off right before the eyes of authorities at the Freeport of Monrovia. It is also reported the Government of Liberia had onboard transformers and light poles that were destined for Harper City, Maryland County.

It is the very government that is investigation itself to come up with findings and perhaps recommendation to prevent future reoccurrence. Commissioner Nagbe had said "The LMA wishes to state that the subject vessel was detained and not allow to sail, and this vessel was at no time authorized or permitted to carry passengers or operate as a passengers vessel."

But this was exactly what occurred on Saturday, July 17, 2021 when the Niko Ivanko loaded at the Freeport of Monrovia and sailed off before subsequently sinking into deep waters.

These circumstantial pieces of evidence clearly point that people and institutions should be held to account. They should not be shielded in such matter or else, a future reoccurrence that this investigation seeks to prevent could just be a matter of time before it returns right before our doorsteps with even more casualties.

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