By Godfrey Bivbere & Anesthesia Okolie
OFFICIALS of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and its Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) counterpart have rescued a distressed vessel (M/T Liliana Carneiro) conveying 400 passengers said to be fleeing from Gabon for fear of election crisis.
The vessel which set sail from Libreville, Gabon earlier last week, was believed to have run into troubled waters following alleged rupture in its hull leading to the lose of its bunker some distance from Cotonou (Benin Republic) and was left to the mercy of the tide before the 14-man crew sent out distress signal.
Speaking on the development, Captain Ihenacho Ebubuego, General Manager, Marine and Operations of the NPA, said the message was picked up by the authority and after contacting the management of NIMASA, they set out and towed the vessel back to Nigerian water where they could take care of the needs of the crew and passengers.
At about 5pm on Thursday, a tanker vessel; M/T Blue Latitude was brought to supply the distress ship with 3,000 metric tons of bunker and 2,000 metric tons of fresh water before they were left to continue their journey.
However, one of the female passengers who spoke with Vanguard, said there was nothing wrong with the ship fully loaded with goods and passengers. She explained that the ship was the best for transportation along that route, noting that the problem was that it ran out of bunker and once they are supplied bunker, they would be on their way.
On why the vessel was so fully loaded, another passenger, Mr. Peter Ajas said that all of them are running away from Gabon because of the forthcoming elections, especially as there are indications that the elections may lead to crisis.
Ajas pointed out that they had to take along their personal belongings that they are able to carry for the trip. The vessel has since continued its journey after receiving the much needed bunker.