Ship Collision: NIMASA lacked capacity to carry out search and rescue operations – Ship owners


Intrigues as more revelations trail the recent collision of two tanker vessels; MT Tank and MT Elixir that led to loss of a life, eight victims yet to be found while three persons were rescued alive out of the twelve crew members on board MT Tank vessel.

Recall that the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had conveyed a press briefing in Lagos recently to intimate the public of its efforts at rescuing the victims of the ill-fated vessels at Bonga terminal in Delta state.

According to the Acting Director General of NIMASA, Baba Jauro, the agency had deployed all necessary rescue and search operation facilities on ground to find the remaining eight victims whose whereabouts were yet to be known.

Though Jauro admitted that the agency had only two divers and that none of the divers could go the 1500 metres depth of the accident location.

He however reiterated that efforts were ongoing to make sure that the remaining victims were rescued.

Out of the affected twelve crew members of the MT Tank, one was found dead while three were rescued alive but eight persons are yet to be found.

But in another development, owners of the vessel have said that NIMASA lied in the information it fed to the public even as they accused the apex maritime agency of burying evidence.

The technical Adviser to the owners of MT Tank, Capt. Deji Abegunde has said that NIMASA had not done anything and would not do anything about the accident.

“NIMASA has not done anything and NIMASA will not do anything. What NIMASA has been able to do is just to go and collect the survivors and any corpse that is floating, nothing more,” he said.

According to Capt. Abegunde, NIMASA has no capacity to carry out search and rescue operations describing the development as unfortunate.

Expressing his lack of confidence in NIMASA’s readiness to carry out necessary investigation, he recalled a similar case between MT Niki C and MT Sharon that collided in 2013, where two Nigerian crew members lost their lives and the case has since been buried by NIMASA.

Capt. Abegunde who also doubles as a Ship owner added that MT Elixir was allegedly loaded with stolen crude oil that was why NIMASA had not brought the vessel into Nigeria waters even as he maintained that the said ship was no longer on Nigerian waters.

“I believe that vessel came to Nigeria to steal our oil and I am happy that guy confirmed that there is oil theft in that place. I believe that vessel is loaded with crude oil. That is why they have not brought the vessel into Nigerian water. When situation is like this, it means they are burying evidence,” he said.

Speaking further, Capt. Abegunde disclosed that MT Elixir was not on innocent passage as claimed by NIMASA adding that the vessel allegedly discharged DPK within the Nigeria waters even as he said that the vessel had been in Nigeria since the beginning of September.

In the same vein, the Managing Director of Twinstomp Energy Limited, Tosin Kolawole in a statement released to the press immediately after the NIMASA press conference indicated that MT Elixir that sunk the MT Tank was not at all meant for Nigeria waterways at the time of the accident.

He alleged that the accident was orchestrated even as he accused NIMASA of not co-operating to ensure a thorough investigation.

“Rather than a mere accident, we have also been informed that the accident may have been orchestrated. The Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the agency of government responsible for administration and safety issues on Nigeria waterways so far has not been quite cooperative, and in fact, failed to ensure a thorough investigation into the matter,” he stated.

Tosin however maintained that previous occurrence of ship collision on the Nigeria waterways has always been handled with levity.

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