Liberia: Senate Joint Committee Wants Reasonable Financial Package For Relatives Of Victims Of Niko Invanka

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MONROVIA – The Senate Joint Committees on Maritime, Defense Intelligence, Security and Veteran Affairs have forwarded several recommendations to Plenary for onward submission to the Executive from its investigative findings into circumstances that led to the sinking of the Niko Ivankar vessel resulting to the death of several citizens.

Among the many recommendations, the Committees want the Liberian Maritime Authority (LMA) and the shipping agency, in addition to the US$100,000 promised by central government, to facilitate the funeral of deceased.

The Committees have also recommended for the Executive branch of government to work with the families of the deceased to arrange reasonable financial package and other benefits for the immediate families of the deceased and those that are missing in action.

The Committees’ report is also recommending that a memorial be organized by the government of Liberia, spearheaded by the LiMA, the National Port Authority, and involving the shipping Agency, to honor the victims on the 100th day of the occurrence of the incident or a feasible date.

The Senate joint committees also want the Government reconsider certain aspect of the APM Terminal agreement, in view of the Port’s MD assertion that 90% of the Port’s activities are controlled by APM. Maritime and the concerned agencies of Government should ensure that before any vessel is licensed, it should have all safety technologies to include Automatic Information System (AIS).

Regarding the loss sustained by individuals in terms of properties, the committee recommends that the Maritime, NPA, the Shipping Agency/the Vessel, and the victims /families should work together to compile a list reflecting the value of properties that were lost by the sinking of Ivankar.

“A copy of such list should be made available to the Senate within two weeks following the release of this report. The listed agencies should take collective responsibilities for the loss. The Committee recommends that the regulatory Authority invokes the appropriate measures enshrined in its regulations as regards the action of the Agency and vessel

“It is hereby recommended that that the National Port Authority institute appropriate administrative measures against the Pier supervisor and staff who reportedly received the communication in the office of the MD Tweahway and didn’t report it to her boss.”

In response to the Committees report, the Plenary of the Liberian Senate mandated the Joint Committee on Maritime as well as Defense, Intelligence, Security and Veteran Affairs to investigate the national disaster occurred by the sinking of the Niko Ivankar vessel.

Plenary action was necessitated by a report submitted by the Joint Committee to the August Body during the 6th Day Sitting of the Special Session of the Senate on Tuesday, November 9, 2021.

On July 17, 2021, the Liberian owned registered vessel, Niko Ivankar, sunk after leaving the Freeport of Monrovia, destined for the Port of Harper, Maryland County. The incident left a dozen persons dead with two persons still unaccounted for, while value   properties loss in the sea disaster is yet unknown.

Committees’ findings

During the Joint Committee’s investigation, it was observed that the functions of the Liberian Government are divided amongst Ministries and Agencies based on statutory considerations.

In the situation under investigation, the Joint Committee on Maritime as well as Defense, Intelligence, Security and Veteran Affairs established that the Maritime Authority and the National Port Authority are the direct line of focus in the search for answers as to what went wrong before and after the sinking of the Niko Ivankar Vessel.

The Joint Committee also established during its investigation that, the Maritime Authority carried the responsibility of serving as the regulatory body while the National Port Authority is looked up to for enforcement of the body of regulations and is buttressed by the Ministry of National Defense through the Coast Guards.

After gathering facts during the investigation, the Joint Committee in consideration of the totality of all that transpired in handling the Niko Ivankar’s situation, the uncoordinated approach in handling the issue before the vessel was allowed to leave the Port, the conflict of interest identified and the lack of coordination eventually led to an unfortunate situation that could have been avoided.

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