The mystery surrounding the ship, TAMAYA 1, which surfaced May 3, on the shores of Grand Cape Mount County, may now appear to be solved as one of three personalities, who recently arrived in the country, has claimed ownership.
This was disclosed by the Ministry of Defense in a release issued Monday, May 16, in Monrovia. The Ministry, at the heart of the investigation surrounding the vessel, which ran aground and reportedly took at least two days before national security forces were alerted, said the three persons who have come to confirm the identity of the abandoned vessel, include Omowho Bernard and Tomogho Oye Amaliri, two of the four crew members who were onboard the vessel; the third person is Robert M. Saigha “the purported owner of the ship.”
Saigha claims to be one of two shareholders in the company called H.G. Matic’s Resources Limited based in Bayelsa State, Nigeria. According to him, the company is engaged in the supply of petroleum products, marine logistics, haulage, civil engineering and general contractual services.
Authorities at the Ministry of Defense have emphasized that the men entered the country on May 13, 2016, onboard ARIK Air at their own volition and were never arrested. “They have since been cooperating with the Liberian security institutions in furtherance of unraveling circumstances surrounding the vessel.”
Saigha told Liberian security personnel that be had bought the ship (Panama registered) in Senegal through what he termed as “installment payments,” which began in 2015. Before it was transferred to him, it had been used to transport groundnut oil from Senegal to Europe.
He narrated that the vessel set sail on April 22, 2016, from Dakar, Senegal for Nigeria and developed technical faults at sea.
He also stated that when he was told about the distress at sea, he contacted another fishing trawler to locate the abandoned vessel.
“It was later established through contact via the fishing vessel that TAMAYA 1 was found sinking in an area 7 degrees 07 North and 13 degrees 08 degrees East of Freetown, Sierra Leone towards Conakry, Guinea and [it] subsequently drifted to Liberia.”
According to Omowho Bernard, chief engineer of the vessel, the ship started to leak from the engine room, and all efforts to correct the situation failed. Eventually he and fellow crew, including the captain, disembarked using TAMAYA 1 lifeboat to board a fishing boat, which came to their rescue.
The lifeboat was later abandoned at sea and it drifted to the coast of Edina, Grand Bassa County.
Investigations conducted by the Liberian Coast Guard (LCG) established that it was indeed one of the two lifeboats onboard the abandoned Panamanian registered Nigerian oil tanker, TAMAYA 1.
Given all that has been said by the purported owner of TAMAYA 1, there are still further unanswered questions and concerns lingering on the minds of ordinary Liberians.