Yenagoa - The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta says that efforts are underway to rescue a crude oil-laden barge that ran aground in St. Nicholas River in Bayelsa.
Residents of Odioama Community in the Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa had reported that the barge sank in the river on Friday, adding that the crew was evacuated by security forces.
Lt. Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, Media Coordinator at JTF’s headquarters in Yenagoa, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday that the maritime component of JTF was assisting in the rescue operation.
Nwachukwu said that the area had been secured to ensure that oil thieves did not tamper with the cargo, while rescue efforts were going on.
He confirmed that the accident occurred on Friday when the barge ran aground some nine nautical miles on the shallow waters of St. Nicholas River.
The coordinator said the Commanding Officer of the Forward Operating Base, FORMOSSO, Navy Capt. Balla Idris, had commenced moves to evacuate the crude cargo to enable the barge to float.
He said the JTF had repelled efforts by unidentified persons to rescue the barge with a tug boat, adding that the JTF was collaborating with oil firms operating in the area to trans-load the crude.
"As we speak, the situation has been brought under control by the JTF, and we are making progress. We want to transfer the crude to make the barge float in the shallow waters.
"We suspect the strong tide diverted it from the normal course to the shallow waters,’’ he said.