A video released says the controversial vessel Niko Ivanka was built in Liberia in 2018, raising serious concern for its safety.
As many as 17 persons are reported missing after the vessel sank off the coast of Liberia over the weekend as 11 of the occupants were rescued during a 36-hour search.
According to the video, the vessel was carrying bags of cement to supply a new depot opened by the Liberia Cement Corporation (CEMCO) in Harper, Maryland County amidst reports that Fouta Corporation is constructing a cement factory.
Also indicated in the video that the vessel was carrying are rice and street light poles.
The Liberian-registered Niko Ivanka left Monrovia on Saturday, July 17, 2021 for Harper port in Maryland County despite being under a detention order for failing to meet basic safety requirements.
The manifest of the vessel showed 18 persons officially registered aboard the ship but it is suspected that the number of passengers could have been higher.
Among those listed on the manifest was a Swedish captain, a Chinese crew member, and 9 members of the West African Examination Council (WAEC).
The vessel was said to have sent out a distress signal that afternoon, thus notifying the coast guard that it had taken on water and a rescue operation began at about 6 nautical miles off the coast of Marshall city in Margibi County.
The vessel’s owner, a Chinese national, was arrested on Sunday afternoon and is now in police custody.
The Commissioner of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), Lenn Eugene Nagbe said a search and rescue operation was immediately launched after his office received an alert from the Liberian coastguard on Saturday afternoon about the accident.
Commissioner Nagbe said: “Even though the operation is ongoing, we have been informed by the men in the field that there has been some progress, and 11 persons have already been rescued from the distressed vessel. We are commissioning an investigation into how a vessel that was detained because of failure to meet rudimentary safety requirements managed to get on the sea with passengers and cargo. Priority now is to search and rescue.”
He said the vessel was not authorized to carry passengers and had been put under “detention orders” because it was not seaworthy.