Discovery of goods fuels suspicion over cargo boat’s sinking

Suspicion is growing over the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the cargo boat ‘Stollie 1,’ which went down between the entrances of the Pomeroon and Waini rivers last Saturday, after some of the cargo was found on a rescuer’s boat.

Duarte Garraway, the cousin of the vessel’s owner Trevor Stoll, said that some of the cargo, which he claims was on the sunken boat, has been found on the boat that rescued the captain and two other crewmen.

He added that at present suspicions have arisen over how the rescuers got their hands on the cargo. He further stated that the rescuers, who said that they are fishermen, told police officers that they were told by the captain to take the cargo.

Garraway said that the captain along with crew members was supposed to have reported to the Harbour Master but they did not.

A source familiar with the investigation being done by the Anna Regina Police Station said that up to last evening, the police were trying to locate the captain of the boat. He said that he was informed that the boat captain was in Georgetown. Efforts by this newspaper to contact the captain were unsuccessful.

The source added that the police in Anna Regina have recovered some articles on the rescuer’s boat, which appears to be cargo taken from the ‘Stollie 1’ but up to late yesterday police were still trying to ascertain the origin of the items.

Shelliza Ramdat, a clothing vendor who said she had four jumbo bags of clothing on the vessel, hopes that she will be compensated for the loss of her goods, which were valued at $500,000.

She added that on January 10, she loaded her goods onto the vessel at the Giftland Wharf in Georgetown and booked a flight to Port Kaituma at the Ogle Airport. She said that Reid told her that he would have left Georgetown on January 11 and would arrive at Port Kaituma on January 12. She waited for a word from the captain but never heard anything from him until January 14, when he told her that he had encountered some problems with the boat engine and had returned to Georgetown to fix the engine. She said that he added that he would leave Georgetown last Friday and was expecting to arrive at Port Kaituma on Saturday afternoon.

Ramdat said that after she received no call from Reid on Saturday afternoon, she decided to call him on Sunday morning. She said that when she called him his phone was turned off, and it has been turned off since. “I don’t really know what happen and would love to have some answers. We, the vendors who had goods on that boat, have been hearing all kinds of rumours. All I want know is if we gonna be compensated,” Ramdat said.

Yonett Barrington, another vendor who had $600,000 worth of goods on the vessel, said that she used the ‘Stollie 1’ vessel a lot and  there had never been any issues previously. Sources say that the losses incurred as a result of the sinking of the vessel amount to $80M.

The Maritime Administration Depart-ment (MARAD) in a statement yesterday said that the vessel left Georgetown at 06:00 hours on Friday with a consignment of general cargo. There were four crew members on board.

According to the initial investigation, MARAD said the M.V. STOLLIE 1 is believed to have sunk after its engines failed and it became disabled. Cargo apparently shifted, thus causing the vessel to list heavily before it began to take in water and sank.

The captain and crew safely evacuated the sinking vessel with their lifesaving equipment and they were rescued by a passing vessel some 12 hours later, MARAD said.

This incident is now being probed, it said.

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