By Bill W. Cooper
The plenary of the House of Representatives has constituted a seven-member specialized committee to work along with agencies of government linked to the recent sinking of the Niko Ivanka vessel.
The committee is chaired and co-chaired by Rep. Johnson N. Gweiklo and Mannah Bishop with the responsibility to ascertain circumstances surrounding the sinking, while the House Committees on Maritime and Education were also mandated to serve as a resource group.
The House’s decision followed the appearance of the heads of the National Port Authority (NPA), the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) and the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and in separate remarks, the witnesses regretted the incident which they described as a ‘disaster.’
In his testimony, the LMA boss, Lenn Eugene Nagbe disclosed that the government through his institution with support from the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and other Agencies of government ensured that more survivors be rescued.
He added, “As we speak, the government has now contracted the service of 4 international investigators to help us bring this matter to a logical ending, and once again, we as a government regret the situation.”
The Managing Director of the NPA, Bill Tweahway then pleaded with Liberians through their respective Representatives for more time to enable them ascertain the actual fact behind the sinking of the vessel, adding, “I am totally dumbfounded, but I am just appealing to our lawmakers to at least bear with us to use the hearing, while we holistically investigate this matter.”
WAEC boss, Dei Gbotoe who could not hold back his tears during the hearing regretted the situation, describing it as a ‘dark day’ for the country and its citizens.
Meanwhile, report emanating from Grand Cape Mount says that one of the missing persons from the sinking Niko Ivanka, Wuelleh Johnson, a member of the WAEC team, was discovered dead in that county.
Meanwhile, the government and the families of those who lost their lives in the sunk NIKO IVANKA Vessel in Margibi County recently, are expected to meet and discuss issues of concern today in Monrovia.
According to the report, those expected to meet with the immediate family members of the dead are the Education Ministry, West Africa Examinations Council, National Port Authority, Liberia Maritime Authority amongst others, and that each family is to be represented by at least five persons at the discussions which is expected to be held at the Education Ministry in Congo Town at 10:00 A.M. On Sunday, July 18, NIKO IVANKA Vessel sank on the waters while enroute to Harper, Maryland County with goods and passengers on board.
The vessel, which reportedly was deemed not meant for passengers but goods transporting, was carrying about 21 passengers including nine employees of the West African Examination Council (WAEC), who were heading to Harper, Maryland County to administer public examinations.
The vessel was reported to have been in deplorable state or not water transport worthy and had been grounded at the Freeport of Monrovia for some time preventing the same from sailing on the Liberian waters.
Up-to-date, about 14 persons were reportedly rescued with no hope of finding any survivor (s) again after more than a week now. The vessel’s manifest showed 18 people on board at the time of departure but authorities suspect that more could have been on board, given that the vessel was not licensed to carry passengers in the first place.
The multi-agency Incident Management Center (IMC) reporting the Recovery Phase of missing persons from the NIKO IVANKA distressed incident stated that in addition to the three victims earlier recovered as was communicated on July 22, 2021, the remains of additional two persons have been recovered.
According to the IMC’s update, this brings to five the number of persons recovered so far and that frantic efforts are being exerted to recover more persons.
The government said the remains of these five victims have been deposited at the St. Mosses Funeral Parlors for preservation and identifications and is calling on family members and relatives of the missing/deceased persons to immediately proceed to the Headquarters of the Liberia National Police on Capitol Hill to be escorted to the Funeral Home to assist the Police identify their love ones.
The IMC is comprised of the Liberia Maritime Authority, Liberian National Coast Guards, Liberian Immigration Service, Liberia National Police (LNP) and other relevant Stakeholders which has assured the deployment of two vessels to Grand Cape Mount and Boniface Counties to patrol the areas in continuation of the recovery process.
Gov’t Meets Families Of Victims On Wrecked Vessel Today …As House To Probe Niko Ivanka Vessel
By Bill W. Cooper