More than 100 persons were feared dead as a Cameroon-bound vessel capsized on the high sea on Sunday. According to sources at the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) at Marina, Lagos, the vessel which left Calabar, the Cross River State capital, for Cameroon with about 180 passengers on board on Sunday did not arrive at its destination.
In the morning when some reporters went to Marina, Calabar, the takeoff location, some persons were seen discussing the incident in a sad mood.
As at the time of the visit to Marina, Calabar, there was no official report from Shoreline, the official operators of the vessel and the harbour. In the afternoon, reporters were not allowed entry into the harbour. A security man at the gate at about 2:55 p.m. said all Shoreline staff had shut down for the day whereas work is known to close at the harbour at about 9.30p.m. daily when all vessels must have taken off.
It was learnt that the ill-fated vessel left the Terminal C of NPA, Calabar operated by Shoreline Logistics at about 4:15 p.m. before the incident occurred.
“The vessel left Calabar for Cameroon with about 180 passengers, and on their way it capsized on the high sea. We cannot confirm anything at this moment for now but that is what happened.
“The ship, as usual, was overloaded and that is what has been happening here. Sometimes the vessels even leave without complete life jacket because they are usually overloaded,” a source at the terminal said.
It was further learnt that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and others that are saddled with the responsibility of checking the vessels to ensure safety look the other way after an exchange of “pleasantries.”
Sources at the Shoreline harbour alleged that many times vessels and local boats had capsized due to such challenges, with the government doing nothing about the situation.
The spokesperson of NIMASA could not comment on the incident as she was on leave. But a top official in the office, who pleaded anonymity, said: “We got unofficial reports of the incident, but that it happened on the Cameroonian axis. We are, however, investigating the matter.”
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