July 23, 2021
I have heard, with profound grief, of the tragic capsize of a Liberian-made Vessel identified as Niko Ivanka on the coast of Maryland County.
According to official information, the Niko Ivanko Vessel had on board twenty-eight (28) persons which Included staffers of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) who were en route to the Southeast to conduct the WAEC Examination to students in that part of our country.
I have painfully learned that of the 28 persons who were on board before the sinking of this vessel, about 10 persons were rescued alive, eleven (11) deaths reported so far while seven (7) persons remain missing up to the time this statement is released.
I am heartbroken by such horrid development. I offer my prayers of consolation and extend my deepest condolences to the bereaved families. Peace be upon all who have died in such horrific sinking. My family and I sincerely share in this devastating grief the entire nation has been subjected to. With more than seventy-two (72) hours and counting, we can only hope through the eyes of faith that a miracle happens for those who are presumed missing, to be found alive and reunited with their grieving loved ones.
As we grieve this disastrous episode that has dreadfully claimed the lives of fellow citizens, we are concerned about what could have possibly caused this Vessel to sink thereby unleashing upon the nation such unbearable misery. Since the occurrence of the grievous incident, we have followed with interest exchanges of claims and counterclaims between the authority of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) and the Management of Niko Ivanka regarding the legitimacy and mechanical fitness of the vessel to ply the coast of Liberia.
Without siding with either side, I wish to make it categorically clear that the government through the LMA has the greatest responsibility statutorily to ensure that all vessels sailing the waters of Liberia are fully compliant with all International and National Marine safety measures and protocols before obtaining regularized licenses to ply the Liberian waters. The questions then arise, was Niko Ivanka seaworthy in keeping with established maritime laws and protocols to ply the coast of Liberia? Did this vessel meet all safety regulations? Was the vessel mechanically fit to ply the Liberian coast?
I believe a thorough, expeditious, and independent investigation into this matter will adequately answer these questions and concerns lingering in the minds of all of us. I hereby call for an immediate and credible investigation into this unfortunate incident to establish the facts and ensure justice for both those who have died and their grieving families as well as those who, by the grace of God, survived this gruesome incident. The Liberian people and the world deserve to know what happened. There must be no room for impunity yet again in such a disaster that has decimated precious lives. Could such a brazen horror occur if the proper safety and mechanical standards were fully adhered to? A credible investigation would establish the facts for all of us.
Finally, I have instructed my office to make gracious efforts to obtain the contacts of the bereaved families over the next few days. The moment that is done, I shall make personal contact with each of the families to extend my condolences and pray along with them.
God bless you all.
Think, Love, and Build Liberia
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