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‘Boko Haram Fear’: Ghost Ship Strikes Fear of Terrorism in Liberia

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Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County – When news surfaced that an abandoned ship had been discovered in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County last week, the mystery surrounding the abandonment immediately sent shockwaves in and out of Liberia.

“I am afraid now because this Boko Haram now that is circulating in the African countries; it can strike fear because for one fact just about a month ago, they went and killed so many people in Ivory Coast – and for now the ship that we are seeing here, it is on it Tamaya 1 and the Nigerian flag and since the ship landed we have not seen anybody from that ship. So that’s the fear in us in Grand Cape Mount County.” Thomas Slight, a Robertsport resident

It took the government nearly a week to finally come up with some explanation but by then, residents in a nation now accustomed to looking at the back of their heads, after going through a lengthy period of war, had already developed a sense that something sinister was amiss.

“During the search on board the vessel, it was discovered that the abandoned vessel is an oil tanker and but so far no information was established regarding the number of crew members as   no crew members  were found on board. It was further gathered by the LCG that the vessel was gutted by fire, leaving the bridge (Upper and Control Center) burned along with all documents”.

The ship, the Tamaya 1 has been identified as a Panamanian registered Nigerian flagged vessel which drifted on the shores of Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County on 3 May 2016. The team boarded the vessel by way of land on the coast of Liberia through Grand Cape Mount County.

The ship’s abandonment prompted speculations as many began asking questions. When reporters arrived on the scene early this week to tour the abandoned ship, they were greeted with ants’ residents still trying to figure out why?

Why would a ship from out of nowhere decide to dock on Liberia’s shores? Where are the crewmembers, the captain?

But the search for answers was greeted with new discovery. Residents in the area have already begun taking the ship to pieces, looting the inside and taking anything of value they could find.

FrontPageAfrica was later informed that at least four persons have been arrested in connection to a looting spread on board the mysterious Tamaya Ship.

The ship which mysteriously surfaced on the coast of Robertsport Grand Cape Mount County was later rushed on by some residents of the City who were in desperate need of finding ants meat for their families.

This is evident due to the distance covered by them as they climbed over gigantic roads and walking along the sea shores just to reach to the ship.  

The Tamaya Ship is currently docked behind Mt. Cape Mount about one-hour walking distance from the central City of Robertsport, an isolated area.

Col. Jabah Jabateh, Senior Inspector, Bureau of Immigration says the vessel landed in the area about four or five days ago and authorities were immediately informed.

“Our Commander with the other joint security, they moved here and they sent us some information but because we wanted to find out more that is why we came to make sure that our people are informed properly.”

Col. Jabateh agrees that the discovery is causing some fear amongst residents in the area.

Of course because they are not used to this kind of thing and the way the vessel is looking and the way it has been ransacked, maybe it came like that and when you see those kinds of things, no crews, you will panic and because of that we are here to make sure and alleviate that panic from the citizens.”

The BIN official however says logistics remain a big concern. “We have the manpower but we are awaiting logistics. We have checked all the four corners of that ship. We are doing our jobs but we want logistics.”

Thomas Slight, a Robertsports resident says the fears are valid. “It was week after last Sunday we saw that ship on top of the ocean. Unexcitingly, the ship landed on Tuesday at the back of the rocks. I am afraid now because this Boko Haram now that is circulating in the African countries it can strike fear because for one fact just about a month ago, they went and kill so many people and for now the ship that we are seeing here, it is on it Tamaya 1 and the Nigerian flag and since the ship landed we have not seen anybody from that ship. So that’s the fear in us in Grand Cape Mount County.”

The 64-meter (210ft) tanker’s last known position was on 21 April near Gambia and Senegal, according to shipping site marine traffic – well north of Liberia along the West African coast. The ship was en route to the Senegalese port of Dakar, according to the site.

But local security officials in the county say, several of the looters made away with items such as: Safety Jackets, four gallons of fuel oil, Mattresses and many others while the four arrested were also caught in possession with similar items.

The Ship is now sinking below sea level due to the heavy sea wave and appears to be ransacked.
Since the arrival of what is termed as a Ghost Ship in the county, there have been mixed views among the people of Liberia mainly regarding their security protection.

A reporter who entered the ship says it appears like some departments of the ship got burned as there were mattresses and clothes seen inside one of the rooms.

It still not clear whether crew members were on board but there are speculations that foot prints were seen leading to the bush side of the area minutes after the ship first arrive something that is yet to be confirmed nor denied by Authority.

During a Journalist tour of the ship there were also Immigration officers seen on the ship to gather first-hand information as far as their border patrol work is concern.

Lawrence Karnley, Director of Security at the Bureau of Immigration(BIN), a first assessment report showed that a Nigerian flag was seen handing on the top of the ship but later disappear few days after their second return to the scene.

Some residents of the County and many Liberians say, they are now living in fear due the presence of the ship especially when there was no crew member seen on board. But Col. Jabah, Jabateh, a Senior Inspector at the “BIN’ assures that authorities are working on security related strategies to ensure that they do not panic, noting that with more logistical support to them including the joint security team, they can easily provide maximum security protection for the people

The Ministry of National Defense is also assuring the public that the Liberian coast guard in concert with other security agencies are further investigating to unravel circumstances surrounding the abandoned oil tanker and its subsequent drifting on the Liberian shores.

As investigation into the abandoned oil tanker lingers, speculations will no doubt continue as many ponder answers to unanswered questions as to what forced the ship to wash ashore and what has become of the ship’s crew.

Residents in Robertsport however, are turning to the government for answers and security. “The only thing the government can do right now is put up security all around the seacoast and do background investigation and conduct searches from the various bushes around the area and see how best to handle this case.”

“We should not take it to be small thing because it is a problem. You can’t see ship land here without any crew on board, nobody inside? It’s a problem,” Slight lamented.

Julius Konton, Special for FrontPageAfrica

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