Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Calistus Obi has said that the agency has not in any way erred by releasing the foreign flagged vessel, MT Elixir involved in a marine collision with MT Tank in Warri, Delta State last month.
The agency last week reportedly released MT Elixir on the grounds that it had extracted a written undertaking from its owners that they would make available any crew member or material needed in the future to conclude the investigation.
Fielding questions from journalists in Lagos on Tuesday, Obi said NIMASA acted in line with the regulations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) concerning accidents involving foreign vessels, stressing that the agency’s decision to release the vessel has not impeded its ongoing investigation on the cause of the accident.
According to him, the release of the vessel has not stopped anything from being done and will not in any way affect liabilities of any of the vessels that would at the end of the day be adjudged guilty.
“When an international sea-going vessel is involved in accident, there are basic fundamental procedures and rules that must be followed based on IMO positions. All of that NIMASA did before it allowed the vessel to sail.
“Sometimes when stakeholders react, they react base on ignorance. Unfortunately people died. So what we would be talking about is the extent of liability of the vessel that was the cause of the accident.
“So it is all about investigation and you don’t keep a vessel while you are investigating because the maritime authority of the country involved where the vessel was registered has undertaking. So at the end of it all somebody must be held responsible.
“The vessel owner must bear responsibility for it. So, we had to allow them to sail because it has not in any way impeded NIMASA’s role in all of that,” he said.
He however acknowledged that NIMASA lacks the capacity for search and rescue operation to recover the bodies of the remaining missing eight crewmembers because of the depth of the area where the accident occurred.
“We have to say this emphatically, there are areas where we lack capacity. We are talking about a depth of 1,500 kilometres; that is massive. But NIMASA is doing its outmost best to see how it can come out of the very unfortunate situation,” Obi said.
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